Wednesday, April 16, 2014

St. Joan of Arc, Easter and Communion

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

Thursday is traditionally the day during Holy Week of Easter 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 just how important communion was to Saint Joan of Arc and how every Christian should value the “Eucharist” just as she did as one of our Lord’s greatest gifts and blessings. While I was writing the final part of Maid of Heaven several years ago about Joan’s imprisonment and trial I was asked to help serve communion at the little church where I attended services. As I helped to serve the bread 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 to receive communion but they had been ordered by the chief judge at her trial Pierre Cauchon to refuse her requests probably as a way to further punish and torment her while she was on trial. As I passed out the bread during our service 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 and shortly before she was sent to the stake, 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 great Holy Week and Easter this year.