St. Joan of Arc’s confidence in God inspires us, other saints and some surprising people through history.
As a teenaged girl she guided the armies of France against England to install the rightful king to the throne of France.
That same king, Charles VII, later denied her and did nothing to stop her martyrdom.
Her life is mystical, magnificent, and full of feats that still stun the world.
Today, on her feast day, let us look at the life of a girl who commanded armies through the instructions of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margaret of Antioch.
A Life Full of Confidence
St. Joan of Arc’s life is complicated. No other saint in history was both condemned and then canonized by the Catholic Church.
The astounding feats she won in battle through the advice of her voices — mainly St. Michael — made the wrong impression in the 15th century to clergyman who wanted to stop her.
She was mocked but carried on through battles. She was betrayed, captured, and condemned to burn at the stake all on a charge of having dressed as a man. Her trial was a farce of justice.
However, she died with the name of Jesus on her lips. She never stopped trusting God even when she became weak and fearful.
This powerful saint carried on. It took five centuries to declare her a saint but now the world has never stopped talking about her.
The Amazing Influence of St. Joan of Arc
St. Joan of Arc lived in the 15th century. A century known for civil upheaval, knights and peasants with vivid distinctions in land and money.
Yet, St. Joan of Arc broke down all these strict codes as a peasant girl — not poor but not rich — leading men to battle and France to victory.
She forever holds the record of being the only person – male or female — to hold supreme command of military forces of a nation at the age of 17.
She also holds the record of the most remarkable inspiration.
The Surprising and not so Surprising People She Inspired
- The famous French poet Charles Peguy illustrates her life in The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc. The book is so profound that pope’s comment on it.
- One of Peguy’s plays reached the Vatican causing former Pope Benedict XVI to proclaim that Peguy’s work “is so famous that has been offered to us also showed us that Joan’s pathetic cry, which betrays her distress and helplessness, reveals above all her ardent and lucid faith, marked by hope and courage.”
- Mark Twain, sometimes openly hostile to the Catholic Church, writes the definitive autobiography on the saint.
- Twain states: “I like Joan of Arc best of all my books,” he wrote shortly before his death, “and it is the best; I know it perfectly well.
- Twain’s book took 14 years of preparation and two years of writing.
- The great conquer Napoleon reinstated celebrations in St. Joan of Arc’s honor after being prohibited following the French Revolution.
- St. Therese of Lisieux, famous as the Little Flower and a Doctor of the Church wanted to be like St. Joan of Arc. The Little Flower portrayed her in a play at the convent, seeking to emulate St. Joan of Arc’s love of Christ.
St. Joan of Arc’s Example of Confidence
It took 489 years to declare St. Joan of Arc a saint.
She was beatified on April 11, 1909 and canonized May 16, 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. Another Pope Benedict, this time the 16th, esteemed her in two catechetical addresses at the Vatican.
Both popes validated her courage. The pope who beatified her, Pope Pius X called her a hero.
“The virtue of these heroes must revive the weak and fearful in the practice of Christian doctrine and belief and make them strong in the faith. Courage, in fact, has no reason to exist except in so far as it is based on a conviction,” Pope Pius X wrote.
He also said St. Joan of Arc’s compelling “treasuring of the Word of God,” took her through all darkness into light.
However, it is Pope Benedict XVI that holds the banner of St. Joan of Arc up to us as a way to truth, beauty, and goodness.
“With her luminous witness St Joan of Arc invites us to a high standard of Christian living: to make prayer the guiding motive of our days; to have full trust in doing God’s will, whatever it may be; to live charity without favouritism, without limits and drawing, like her, from the Love of Jesus a profound love for the Church, ” he said.
More Resources on St. Joan of Arc
Watch Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on St. Joan of Arc.
Learn about the banner she carried in battle.
Get your free coloring page from Catholic Icing.
Cook this in honor of St. Joan of Arc!
See her life in famous artwork.