Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Song of Joan of Arc

The Song of Joan of Arc is an epic poem written and finished on July 31, 1429, by Christine de Pisan who was a highly regarded poet who lived in France during the same time as Joan of Arc.  This poem was written and finished shortly after Charles VII was crowned King so it provides a unique view on the momentous events brought about by Joan of Arc during this period of history.  Below is a stanza from the poem describing the coronation of Charles VII: 
"Now let us welcome our King!
Rejoice at his return from his fall,
overjoyed at the site of his splendor.
Let us all both great and small
step forward to greet him-no one
hold back-salute him with joyful face.
Praising God who has been so kind
let shouts of "Noel!" fill the place."

The poem is full of praise toward Joan reflecting the national sentiment at the time after Joan won her great military victories and crowned Charles VII King of France:

"And blessed Maid, are you to be forgotten?
For God has honored you so much using you
against the rope binding France so tightly
which you untied in your debut.
Could our praise ever be enough
for one that we so greatly adore. 
You brought peace to our land,
so greatly ravaged by war"

The full English translation of this famous poem is available online at MaidOfHeaven.com at:
Since today is the anniversary of the completion of this poem it is a good time to read it though to better understand how great a impact Joan of Arc had upon France and world history.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Joan Crowns Charles VII Anniversary

On July 17, 1429, Joan of Arc fulfilled her primary mission to have Charles VII crowned and anointed as  King of all France. Joan had predicted that she would lead Charles to his crowning in Reims when she had begun her mission only a few months earlier. What had seemed impossible to everyone except Joan occurred that summer day in late July of 1429 in the Cathedral of Reims when Charles VII was crowned King of France. All the French people loyal to Charles rejoiced as echoed by Christine de Pisan in her famous epic poem The Song of Joan of Arc:

"Now let us welcome our King!
Rejoice at his return from his fall,
overjoyed at the site of his splendor.
Let us all both great and small
step forward to greet him-no one
hold back-salute him with joyful face.
Praising God who has been so kind
let shouts of "Noel!" fill the place."

Christine’s poem was finished shortly after Charles VII was crowned in Reims and reflects the national sentiments toward Joan of Arc at that time and is well worth reading to better understand the huge impact that this event had upon the people of France. An English translation is available online at MaidOfHeaven.com at
The Song of Joan of Arc by Christine de Pisan

You can also learn more about the coronation and the city of Reims by visiting this page at MaidOfHeaven.comt:
Joan of Arc & Reims

Monday, June 18, 2012

Anniversary of Joan's Great Victory at Patay

Today is the anniversary of Joan's great victory at the Battle of Patay, which was the most overwhelming victory that she achieved in her brilliant military career. After the battle of Orleans the English military leaders were concerned but still confident they could defeat the French when they engaged in combat. After the overwhelming victory by Joan of Arc at Patay the English leaders realized they were in serious trouble and that Joan was a real military commander to be feared. While this was indeed Joan’s most overwhelming victory where she annihilated an English army of a least six thousand while losing only a handful of men I have never felt that she receives proper credit for this great victory by the French by most modern historians. I wrote a good article a few years back about Joan of Arc and the Battle of Patay that relies heavily upon the words of the people present and clearly shows just how much Joan was responsible for the victory at Patay. Please read it and decide for yourself exactly how much credit Joan deserves: 
Joan of Arc & the Battle of Patay

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day for Joan of Arc: Joan’s Feast Day & Death Anniversary

May 30th is the anniversary of Joan of Arc’s death and is also her Feast Day which is a chance to honor and remember her in a similar way as we do other soldiers on Memorial Day Weekend.  It always gives me pause to remember that Joan’s final recorded words were “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” which to me was her final exclamation point as to the true focus of her life.  Saint Joan of Arc loved God more than anything else which is what made her such a “brilliantly shining light” in this dark world.  Even in the final and darkest moments of  Joan’s life her light shone brightly which impressed even her enemies to the point that several made professions of faith as later described by one of the men participating in Joan’s execution: The judges who were present, and even several of the English[Joan’s enemies], were moved by this to great tears and weeping, and indeed several of these same English, recognized God's hand and made professions of faith when they saw her make so remarkable an end. “(you can read several touching eyewitness accounts of Joan’s death on the page devoted to Joan of Arc’s Feast Day)

This year on Joan’s Feast Day, which is taking place during the 600th anniversary year of her birth, let us all learn from Joan to have the same ultimate focus:  Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Joan's Victory at Orleans

On Sunday May 8, 1429, Saint Joan of Arc achieved complete victory at Orleans and fulfilled the promise she had made only few months earlier to liberate the city.  On the morning of May 8th following the previous day's spectacular storming and taking of the fort Les Tourelles by the French, the English defenders remaining around Orleans left their siege positions and assembled in order of battle in an open field near the city.  The French forces came out of Orleans to oppose the English and for an hour the two armies faced each other.  During this time Joan called for mass to be held.  A citizen of Orleans, Jean de Champeaux, later testified as to what happened next:  "The masses completed, Joan said to look and see whether the English were facing them.   'No, the English are turned towards Meung' someone replied.  'In God's name,' Joan replied, 'They are going. Let them go, while we go give thanks to God and pursue them no farther, since today is Sunday."  And thus total victory was achieved at Orleans as the English retreated away from Orleans.  Joan and her army returned to Orleans and celebrated with the citizens of Orleans, a celebration that is renewed every year on May 8th in honor of the "Maid of Orleans."
Video of Annual Celebration in Orleans honoring St. Joan
Visit Orleans Fete Jeanne Darc for more info about this year's celebrations.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Joan's Longest Day!

"The next day May 7, 1429 would be long 
and hard, but would end with spectacular success.
You asked Father Pasquerel to always stay near 
your side, so he could aid you in your distress.
'Tomorrow blood will flow from my body, above 
the breast,' to the father you had to confess."
 from Maid of Heaven

On May 7 in 1429 at Orleans St. Joan of Arc led her forces against the seemingly impregnable fortress Les Tourelles. During the course of the fighting Joan was severely wounded when an arrow pierced her body just above her breast. Without Joan to lead them the soldiers and their commanders quickly lost their resolve fearing the worst without Joan and the assault on Les Tourelles appeared as if it would end in failure. Then the miraculous occurred when Joan re-appeared on the battlefield and seized her banner and lead the French army forward to make another assault upon Les Tourelles. Jean d'Aulon, who was the head of Joan's military household, later recalled the amazing turn of events: ". . . the lords and the captains who were with her, seeing that they could not well gain it this day, considering how late it was and also that they were all very tired and worn out, agreed among them to sound the retreat for the army. This was done, and, at the sound of the trumpet call, each one retreated for the day. During this retreat, [d'Aulon] who had been carrying the standard of the Pucelle and still holding it upright in front of the boulevard was fatigued and worn-out, and gave the standard to one named Le Basque, who was with the Lord of Villars. And because [d'Aulon] knew Le Basque to be a brave man, and he feared that harm would come from the retreat, and that the fortress and the Boulevard would remain in the hands of the enemy, he had the idea that if the standard were pushed ahead, due to the great affection in which it was held by the soldiers, they could by this means win the boulevard. And then [d'Aulon] asked Le Basque if he would follow him when he entered and went to the foot of the boulevard; he said and swore he would this. And then [d'Aulon] entered the ditch and went up to the base of the side of the Boulevard, covering himself with a shield for fear the stones, and left his companion on the other side, believing that he would follow him step-by-step. But when the Pucelle saw her standard in the hand of Le Basque, because she believed that she had lost it, as [d'Aulon] who had been carrying it had gone into the trench, she came and took the standard by the end in such a way that he had to let it go, crying, "Ha! My standard! My standard!" And she shook the standard in such a way that the one who is testifying imagined that others might think that she was making a sign to the others by doing this. And then he who was speaking cried: "Ha, Basque! Is this what you promised me?" And then Le Basque tugged at the standard that he dragged it from the hand of the Pucelle, and after this, he went to [d'Aulon] and brought the standard. Because of these things, all those in the army of the Pucelle gathered together and rallied again, assailed this boulevard in such great fierceness that, a short time afterwards, the boulevard and the fortress were taken by them, and abandoned by the enemy, and the French entered the city of Orleans by the bridge . . ."
This was indeed Joan of Arc's Longest Day!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Joan’s Final Warning to English in Orleans

After Joan of Arc arrived in Orleans she continued to try to warn the English besieging the town to leave with two more letters (Joan first warned the English in a letter on March 22, 1429).  Joan sent a letter to Lord Talbot, the English leader in Orleans, that was later described by the “Bastard of Orleans” at her trial of rehabilitation as follows:

“She did in fact address to the English a letter, written in her mother tongue, to raise the siege or, if they refused, to attack them so strongly they would be forced to retire. This letter was addressed to my Lord Talbot. And I affirm that from that hour, while formerly the English with two hundred of theirs could put to flight a thousand of ours, it required only four or five hundred of our soldiers to combat all the power of the English, and we were so successful with the enemy that they no longer dared to leave their strongholds and bastilles."

Joan then had a letter shot into the fort Les Tourelles on May 5, 1429 that contained her final warning:

“You, men of England, who have no right in the kingdom of France, the King of Heaven sends word to you, and commands by me, Joan the Maid, that you leave your fortresses and return to your own country. Otherwise I will produce a clash of arms to be eternally remembered. This is the third and last time I will write to you, and I will not write to you any more. 
Jesus Maria
              Joan the Maid”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Anniversary of Joan of Arc Entering Orleans

On April 29, 1429, Joan of Arc arrived  with her army before the city of Orleans and was greeted by the military commander of the city Jean Count of Dunois known as the Bastard of Orleans.  Joan was not at all happy that her captains had not chosen the most direct route to Orleans and displayed her anger in responding to the greeting by Dunois:   "Are you the Bastard of Orleans? Was it you who gave counsel that I come here, on this side of the river, and that I am not to go directly where are Talbot and the English?" Joan went on to say:

"In God's name, the counsel of our Lord is safer and wiser than yours. You have thought to deceive me, and you deceive yourself still more; for I bring you better succor than ever came to any knight or city whatever, seeing that it is the succor of the King of Heaven. Nevertheless, it comes to you not through love of me; it proceeds from God himself, who at the request of Saint Louis and Saint Charlemagne, has had pity for the city of Orleans, and has not wished that the enemy should at the same time possess the person the duke and his city."

Despite Joan’s harsh words, Dunois was thrilled at the arrival of Joan and her army and later described how he felt that the circumstances of her arrival and a miraculous changing of the wind that aided in their crossing of the river Loire into the town led him to believe Joan could only have been sent by God:

And she crossed the river Loire with La Hire and myself, and we entered all together the town of Orleans. These are the reasons why I think that Joan, and all her deeds in war and in battle, were rather God's work than man's: the sudden changing of the wind, I mean, after she had spoken, which gave hope of aid, and the bringing in of the provisions in spite of the English, who were much stronger than the royal army, and the fact, furthermore, that this young girl swore that she had had a vision in which Saint Louis and Saint Charlemagne prayed to God for the safety of the King and of this city."

To learn more about Joan’s famous entry into Orleans visit this page at MaidOfHeaven.com about Orleans and Joan of Arc.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Anniversary of Joan’s Departure from Blois

On April 26, 1429, Joan of Arc led her army out of Blois to relieve the besieged city of Orleans and began her military career.  I wrote about this grand event in Maid of Heaven as follows:

“Once made chaste by your shining example,
the army marched toward Orleans as planned.
What a procession is must have been, with
singing priests leading the way for four thousand.
Gleaming in your armor while holding your
banner, you cheerfully exhorted your command.”

One of the priests no doubt leading the way was Joan’s personal chaplain Father Pasqueral who later described the departure of Joan and the army in picturesque detail:

“The day we quitted Blois to go to Orleans, Joan had all the priests gathered around the banner and they lead the march with the soldiers following.  We marched out of the city by the side of the Sologne assembled in that fashion while we sang Veni Creator Spiritus along with several other anthems.”

For Joan this was the day she had been longing for, to finally take command of the army and lead them forward to fulfill the mission given to her by God to save France.  Veni Creator Spiritus indeed!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Joan of Arc, Easter and the Lord’s Supper

“At least in your final hours, you once again enjoyed the Church’s
mercies in preparing your soul.” from Maid of Heaven

Today is traditionally the day during Holy Week when Christians remember the “last supper” of Jesus by receiving communion so I thought I would share a personal story that helped me to better understand how important communion was to St. Joan of Arc and how every Christian should value the “Eucharist” as she did as one of our Lord’s greatest gifts. While I was writing the final part of Maid of Heaven about Joan’s imprisonment and trial I was asked to help serve communion at the little church that I attended. As I helped I began to think about Joan and how she had been denied communion during all those long months she had been alone in prison. She had repeatedly asked the priests who helped guard her for communion but they had been ordered by Pierre Cauchon to refuse her requests probably as a way to further punish and torment her. As I passed out the bread I thought about how desperate Joan had been to receive what I so easily received and took for granted. I really felt like crying when I thought about how special communion was to Joan and how much it had hurt her to not be able to receive the Lord’s body. Finally, during her final hours after she had been condemned to death, she was allowed to receive communion. What joy it must have brought to Joan even though she knew she was to die just a short time later. Martin Ladvenu was the Priest who served Joan her last communion and he later described it in this way: “On the morning of Joan's death, by permission and order of the judges…I heard Joan's confession and administered our Lord's Body to her, which she received with such humility, devotion, and copious tears as I could not completely describe.”

May God Bless everyone with a wonderful Holy Week and Easter.

He is Risen!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Joan of Arc's First Letter

Joan of Arc sent her first letter to the English on March 22, 1429 asking them to peacefully withdraw from France and give up all of the cities and territories they had conquered and warning them of the consequences if they refused. This letter shows the boldness of Joan as well as her chivalric nature as she believed in giving her enemies a warning before engaging in battle. There is no record of how the English reacted upon receiving this letter however it is not hard to imagine them laughing at what they considered a preposterous threat from a presumptive teenage girl. They were soon to regret not taking Joan and her letter more seriously.

+ Jesus Maria +
King of England, and you, Duke of Bedford, who call yourself Regent of the kingdom France; you William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk; John, Lord Talbot; and you Thomas, Lord Scales, who call yourselves lieutenants of the said Duke of Bedford, do justly by the King of Heaven; render to the Maid who is sent here of God, the King of Heaven, the keys of all the good cities that you have taken and violated in France. She has come here from God to restore the royal blood. She is all ready to make peace, if you will deal rightly by her, acknowledge the wrong done France, and pay for what you have taken. And all of you, archers, companions of war, nobles and others who are before you; and if this is not done, expect news of the Maid, who will go to see you shortly, to your very great damage. King of England, if you do not do this, I am Chef de Guerre, and in whatever place I shall find your people in France, I will make them go
Read the Rest of Joan of Arc's letter to the English here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vote for Joan as your Favorite Saint!

If you are looking for a more Christian based alternative to the annual NCAA basketball tournament known as “March Madness” you will be happy to learn that an Episcopal minister has created a tournament featuring 32 saints that is called “Lent Madness.” This tournament is all for fun, of course, but the creator Reverend Chris Schenck hopes his tournament will provide an engaging way for people to learn more about the true heroes of the Christian faith while they vote for their favorite saint. I think it is a great idea and was pleased to see that St. Joan of Arc is included in this year’s tournament. Joan has already won in her first round match-up against Lancelot Andrewes and has advanced to the “Saintly Sixteen” round where she goes up against Mary Magdalene today. To vote for Joan just visit LentMadness.org

Vive la St. Joan!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Joan of Arc Arrives in Chinon and Meets Charles

"Very illustrious Lord Dauphin, I am come, being sent on the part of God, to give succour to the kingdom and to you."

The first meeting between Joan and Charles VII is one of the legendary events in the life of Joan of Arc. According to the history Joan was able to recognize Charles and located him in a crowd even though she had never before met him or had any idea what he looked like. This first meeting took place at the castle in Chinon on or around March 7th of 1429 and an eyewitness, Simon Charles an emissary of the court, described it as follows:
"Informed that she was coming, the King retired behind some others. Nevertheless, Joan recognized him very well and made him reverence. She conversed long with him. And after hearing her, the King appeared joyful."
To learn more about this historic event please visit MaidOfHeaven.com at:
Joan of Arc & Charles VII: First Meeting

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Joan Begins Her Mission!

On February 23, 1429, Joan of Arc finally received the blessing of Sir Robert de Baudricourt and departed Vaucouleurs to begin her mission. Joan had to make three attempts requesting help from de Baudricourt before he finally relented and agreed to send her to Charles VII in Chinon. It was during the evening of the 23rd that Joan assembled her small party of six that included her two knights, Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy, their two servants and two of the King’s messengers. The journey they were embarking upon was long and hazardous and required them to travel at night. Just before Joan departed Vaucouleurs a women of the town asked Joan: “How can you make such a journey when on all sides are enemy soldiers?” to which Joan famously responded: “I do not fear the soldiers, for my road is made open to me; and if the soldiers come, I have God , my Lord, who will know how to clear the route that leads to messire the Dauphin. It was for this that I was born!”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Joan Pilgrimage in 2012

If you are looking for a unique way to celebrate Joan of Arc’s 600th Birthday in 2012 then you might consider going on a pilgrimage to France to walk where Saint Joan of Arc once walked. I have been friends with Chris and Catherine Snidow of PilgrimWitnesses.com for several years and have always been impressed with how committed they are to presenting Joan’s true history and who she really was. Over the years they have sent me many pictures from their pilgrimages of statues and other images of Joan which I have gratefully used at MaidOfHeaven.com to better teach Joan’s true history. I can tell from viewing these pictures that the Snidow’s pilgrimages are very well planned and usually visit some of Joan’s most famous locations. This year’s pilgrimage seems especially enticing with visits to Orleans, Rouen and Domremy which were probably the three most significant cities in Joan’s life. The Snidow’s description of this year’s pilgrimage given below illustrates their commitment to providing the ultimate experience for people wanting to learn the real story of Joan of Arc.

“God willing, in June 2012, we will lead our sixth pilgrimage to France (our fifth with the spirituality and footsteps of Joan foremost in our plans). 2012 marks Joan's 600th birthday anniversary, and this will be celebrated in various ways throughout France. As before, the philosophy we are aiming for on this trip is one of going back to the essentials, of simplicity, of quality time in some places instead of 'rush-rush' in many. We will indeed see much, but we want to experience the places we visit more as spiritual travelers than as consumers. Indeed, our goal is to first see things through the eyes of believers, and then from other perspectives; such as historical, architectural, sociological, as tourists, etc. Consequently, the maximum number of people we'll take will be 16. More than that would begin to impact the basic philosophy we wish to follow.”

For more information click on the picture below from their 2009 pilgrimage:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Noble Joan!

Sometime during the winter of 1429-1430 Charles VII elevated Joan of Arc and her entire family to nobility. In the official document that Charles executed he referred to Joan as “dear and beloved” and explained that her whole family was ennobled “that the memory of the divine glory and of so many favors may endure and increase forever.” Joan was given the family name of du Lys with armorial bearings(coat-of-arms) as Charles had created for her previously in June of 1429 of a sword supporting a crown with a fleur-de-lis on each side.

While Joan later stated at her trial that she had never personally used the armorial bearings and that the King had given them to her brothers the elevation to nobility was a huge honor for Joan and her family and one that she well deserved.

Vive la Joan of Arc!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 The Year of Joan of Arc!

The recent 600th anniversary of Joan’s birth produced a huge amount of news coverage all around the world and many people are now referring to 2012 as "The Year of Joan of Arc.” Lest anyone need a reminder as to why Joan of Arc is so special and deserving of honor throughout this year I thought I would re-print a few of the many words written in praise of Joan over the years by some of the world’s greatest writers and leaders:

"Whatever thing men call great, look for it in Joan of Arc, and there you will find it."
Mark Twain-19th Century American Writer

"Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years."
Winston Churchill-Legendary British Prime Minister in WWII

"She was the consummation and ideal of two noble human efforts towards perfection. The peasant's daughter was the Flower of Chivalry, brave, gentle, merciful, courteous, kind, and loyal....She was the most perfect daughter of her Church....her conscience, by frequent confession, was kept fair and pure as the lilies of Paradise."
Andrew Lang-19th Century Scottish Writer and Historian

"...next to the Christ, the highest spiritual being of whom we have any exact record upon this earth is the girl Jeanne"
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle-Famous Scottish author of Sherlock Holmes Fame.

"Jeanne d'Arc does not belong to France alone but also to all those whose thoughts are elevated enough to grasp the superior and beautiful among goodness."
Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel-19th Century French Painter

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

CELEBRATE Joan of Arc’s 600th Birthday!

“She is easily the most extraordinary person
the human race has ever produced.”

January 6, 2012 marks the 600th anniversary of St. Joan of Arc’s birth and there are few people in all of history as deserving of honor and remembrance on their birthday. As Mark Twain very accurately said of Joan: “She is easily the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.” For this reason all of 2012 is being called the year of Joan with many celebrations taking place worldwide throughout the year starting with parades held in Paris and in New Orleans on January 6 to celebrate on the day of her birth.

You don’t need to attend a large event to celebrate, however, as we can all take a moment on Joan’s birthday this Friday to remember her and honor her. I encourage everyone to light a candle for Joan on her birthday. I have been celebrating this way for several years and there is something almost mystical about lighting a candle and taking a few quiet moments to remember Joan and to reflect upon her life and all that she has come to mean to so many people.

If you need a little help preparing to celebrate Joan’s 600th Birthday then please visit the special page at MaidOfHeaven.com devoted to Joan’s birthday. This page contains many actual quotes from people who knew Joan and her family when she was growing up:
Joan of Arc's Birthday Page

And if you have not done so already you should definitely read the paper I wrote this year to celebrate Joan’s 600th Birthday anniversary that explains the significance of Joan’s birth on the Epiphany titled:
Saint Joan of Arc: A Brilliantly Shining Light of God

Happy Birthday Saint Joan of Arc!