May 29, 2022 – St. Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc’s Feast day is on May 30.
I had known very little about her (other than having learned briefly about her in school) until two years ago when I read a novel about Joan of Arc by the famous American writer Mark Twain. She is a fascinating figure and Saint!
Joan was born in a small village to a simple peasant family in France in 1412. And she saw her people oppressed and ravaged by the ongoing wars with England (Which had lasted nearly a century, hence being called later the “Hundred Years War”). It greatly pained her heart to see people ravaged by the invading English (perhaps not so unlike the feelings of modern-day Ukrainians).
She shared in the daily tasks of work in the household and village, but spent much time in prayer, both in the chapel, and when she was spinning yarn. One day in prayer, St. Michael the Archangel appeared to her, along with the Saint Margaret of Antioch and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, they called her to go to the French Prince, raise up an army and drive out the oppressive English, so to liberate her people to end the oppression and bring about peace.
What followed afterward is so fascinating, that it seems near miraculous! For she did just that! This young teenage peasant girl managed to go and convince the Prince of France, to raise an army which she then led to victory in liberating the besieged city of Orleans! For being but a country peasant girl, experienced military generals were in awe of her military success which often came from bold and courageous charges into a battle that she led. She became a symbol that inspired the French people to help them to fight back and push out their oppressors; a turning moment that led to the ending of a century of war!
What can we learn from Joan of Arc?
God works in history: We believe that God has continued to work and His hand is in the unfolding of history, most especially in and through the lives of the Saints. Joan of Arc’s life seems a particularly clear example of this. through a simple peasant girl of deep faith, God brought about the end of a war that had been raging for generations, for nearly one hundred years. Had God not raised up Joan of Arc, the war may have continued much longer thus affecting many more generations of people who would know nothing but the war in their nations. But God was able to do this in Joan because she constantly turned towards God in prayer. She also encouraged the French soldiers to as well. She insisted that they regularly attend Mass and the Sacrament of Confession so that they could do all they could to be right with the Lord. And also to remind all to constantly turn towards Christ, she had her battle banner made that bore the image of Christ the King.
There is much more that could be said about Joan of Arc. But if you would like to read more about her, aside from the novel by Mark Twain, there is also a good biography of her by Andrew Lang. There also is a play about her by the English writer George Bernard Shaw. So if you’re looking for a read about a fascinating woman of history (and a SAINT), you may consider one of those to prepare for her Feast Day on May 30.