In recent years the historically Catholic nation of France has fallen into a crisis of faith. With a high rate of reported anti-Chrisitian incidents and consistent bids for secularization in the government – including a bid to enshrine a constitutional right to abortion – the situation only became exacerbated when Notre Dame caught fire and burned in April of 2019. Now, the French faithful are rallying around the Maid of Orleans for a time of renewal.
At the tail end of 2022, a group of about a dozen faithful in communion with the bishops launched a 9-year novena to St. Joan of Arc. With the goal of renewing the nation’s vocation as the “eldest daughter of the Church,” France will offer prayers for St. Joan’s intercession until the sixth centennial anniversary of her death in 2031, and they’re inviting Catholics around the world to join them.
Each of the nine years will focus on another aspect of St. Joan’s faithful witness, aspects of which are shared by the French Catholic identity. In the first year France will honor St. Joan’s “availability and obedience to the will of God.”
According to the novena’s official website, all that is required to take part is to sign up for a monthly newsletter – this will send texts for contemplation and prayer – as well as practicing daily prayer.
The supplied prayer reads:
Like you, we want to be faithful to the promises of our baptism;
We want to discern the will of God to accomplish it;
We desire to follow the banner of Christ to extend his reign over our life, our country and the Church;
Get ahead of us.
We beg you for the salvation of our country and our souls;
pray for us.
Subsequent years will continue to explore themes based on the life and deeds of St. Joan. The faithful will meditate on the topics of caution (2024), courage (2025), hope (2026), patriotism (2027), charity and justice (2028), practice of the sacraments (2029), purity (2030), and patience (2031).
In an interview with Famille Chrétienne, novena spokesperson Thibaud Collin explained that he was struck with the idea while reading a biography of St. Joan to his daughter. When he realized that St. Joan died in 1431, he recalled the years-long novena in Poland which took place from 1958 to 1966, known as the Great Novena. He said:
“We saw the fruits of this in the following years: Solidarnosc, St. John Paul II, etc. Given the state of our country, of the world, and of the Church, I have the very simple intuition that prayer and fasting can have very concrete effects in our society.”