Friday, August 27, 2010

For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 8)

St. Joan of Arc knew she would die a martyr's death long before those around her did. She crowned Charles VII king at the Cathedral at Reims in July 1429, fulfilling a central part of her mission. Two months later, she led an unsuccessful attempt to liberate Paris. The following May she was captured by the Burgundians, allies of the English. Betrayed by King Charles VII, she was sold to the English for 10,000 gold francs. Charged with heresy and witchcraft, she was tried, and found guilty of heresy in a church court (they had to throw out the witchcraft charges because an examination by a duchess found St. Joan to be a virgin) by men with a clearly political agenda.

Bishop Pierre Cauchon of the Diocese of Beauvais orchestrated the whole thing. He was a zealot for England and chose a biased jury. He falsified evidence, suppressed findings favorable to St. Joan, terrorized jurors, and refused St. Joan's repeated appeals to the Council of Basel and the pope. 
 You can find the trial transcripts here. The English burned Joan of Arc to death on May 30, 1431. Then they burned her body twice more to prevent the collection of relics.

As she was dying, St. Joan asked two priests to hold a crucifix before her face. As it had throughout her life, St. Joan's gaze remained on Christ as she, like him, endured an unjust and painful death.

Glorious St. Joan of Arc, filled with compassion for those who invoke you, with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles, I kneel at your feet and humbly beg you to take my present need under your special protection...(mention here).

Vouchsafe to recommend it to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all, obtain for me the grace to one day meet God face to face and with you and Mary and all the angels and saints praise Him through all eternity.

O most powerful Saint Joan, do not let me lose my soul, but obtain for me the grace of winning my way to heaven, forever and ever. Amen.

This is the spot in Rouen's Old Market Square where St. Joan was burned at the stake.