“On the day when Joan was burned, the wood was prepared for the fire to burn her before the sermon was finished or the sentence had been pronounced. And no sooner had the sentence been read by the bishop, without any delay, she was taken to the fire, and I did not see that there was any sentence pronounced by the lay judge. She was at once taken to the fire and once in the fire she cried more than six times “Jesus,” and above all with her last breath she cried in a loud voice “Jesus!” so that all present could hear her. Almost all wept with pity, and I heard that after her burning, that the ashes were gathered up and cast into the Seine.”
– Maugier Leparmentier, Apparitor of the Archiepiscopal Court of Rouen
On today’s date, May 30 in the year 1431 the young girl known to the world as “Joan of Arc” was executed by the English by being burnt at the stake. She had been convicted of Heresy in an English Court, having proclaimed at one time to have heard voices of holy spirits telling her to restore Charles VII to his rightful place as the King of France. At the time of her death, she was 19 years old.
Joan of Arc – the Most Basic Facts:
France was locked in combat with England for the possession of most of what is modern day France. It was called “the Hundred Years War” although it actually lasted for 116 years from 1337 till 1453. Charles VII was considered by the French to be their rightful King, but had never been formally crowned as such. Joan was born in @ 1412, and claimed that at the age of 12 she had visions of Saints telling her to drive the English out of France, and to bring Charles VII to the city of Reims to be
crowned as King of a united and independent France. Exactly how she managed to convince those in authority to put her effectively in charge of their armies ahead of trained soldiers is a long story about which I know very little and understand even less. But they did in fact put her in just such a position and it worked! And that is why her story is important. She was an apparently illiterate peasant girl who had a Holy vision and inspired by that vision went on to lead the French nation to victory in a loooong and terrible war (above: miniature of Joan of Arc from late 1400’s) which they had been losing. Using her battle plans the French retook the key city of Orleans in 1429. But in 1430 she was captured by the Brits at Rouen and condemned to death on a charge of Heresy for falsely claiming divine inspiration. Sentenced to burn at the stake, the following was testified by eyewitnesses to her execution on this date 1431 at her Trial of Rehabilitation in 1455:
“When she was handed over by the Church, I remained with her, and she asked most fervently to be given a cross. An Englishman who was present heard this and made her a little one out of wood from the end of a stick and handed it to her. She received it and kissed it most devotedly, uttering pious lamentations and acknowledging God our Savior, who suffered for our redemption on the Cross, of which she had there the symbol and representation. Then she put that cross on her breast between her body and her clothes and humbly asked me to let her have the crucifix from the church so that she could gaze on it continuously until her death. I saw to it that the clerk of the parish church of Saint Sauveur brought it to her…. And so while she was still uttering devoted praise and lamentations to God and the saints, she was led and tied to the stake. And her last word, as she died, was a loud cry of ‘Jesus’.”
– Jean Massieu, Court Bailiff
“After the sentence, she got down from the platform from which she had heard the sermon and was led by the executioner, without further sentence from the lay judge, to the place where the wood was prepared for her burning. The wood was piled on a scaffold, beneath which the executioner lit his fire. When Joan saw the fire, she told me to get down and to raise our Lord’s Cross very high so that she could see it, and this I did. Right up until the end of her life she maintained that the Voices she heard were of God, and that all that she had done she had done at God’s command, and that she did not believe that she had been deceived by her Voices, and that the revelations she received were from God. And that is all I know.”
– Martin Ladvenu, Priest of the Order of Saint Dominic
Due in no small part to the inspiration of Joan of Arc (known also as “the Maid of Orleans”), Charles VII was crowned King of France in the Cathedral at Reims on July 17, 1429. By 1453, the Brits had been driven out of France except for the port of Calais, and they wound up leaving that in 1458. Joan of Arc was declared to be a “Martyr” by the Pope in 1909, and canonized a Saint in 1920. She remains one of the Patron Saints of France down to the present day.