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 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!!!