+ Joan was born to a peasant in the village of Domremy, France. A pious child, she and her people suffered from the ravages of the Hundred Years War, with large sections of France being subject to English rule.
+ As a youth, she claims to have experienced a series of visions of Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Margaret of Antioch. These mystical experiences inspired her to offer her life for the liberation of France.
+ With the support of the future King Charles VII, Joan successfully raise the siege of Orleans and led Charles to his coronation in Rheims.
+ Joan was eventually betrayed and taken prisoner by the English. Condemned as a heretic by a Church court sympathetic to the English and abandoned by her king, she was burned at the stake in Rouen on May 30, 1431. She died looking at a crucifix and calling on the name of Jesus.
+ At the request of her family, Pope Callistus III later convoked a commission which declared her innocence. Honored as a patron saint of France and of soldiers, she was canonized in 1920.
For prayer and reflection
“Our Saint lived prayer in the form of a continuous dialogue with the Lord who also illuminated her dialogue with the judges and gave her peace and security. She asked him with trust: ‘Sweetest God, in honor of your holy Passion, I ask you, if you love me, to show me how I must answer these men of the Church.’ Joan saw Jesus as the ‘King of Heaven and of the earth.’ She therefore had painted on her standard the image of ‘Our Lord holding the world’: the emblem of her political mission. The liberation of her people was a work of human justice which Joan carried out in charity, for love of Jesus. Her holiness is a beautiful example for lay people engaged in politics, especially in the most difficult situations. Faith is the light that guides every decision, as a century later another great Saint, the Englishman Thomas More, was to testify.”—Pope Benedict XVI
On May 30, we also remember Blessed Thomas Cottam. Born in Dilworth, England, and raised as a Protestant, he studied at Oxford and later taught in a grammar school in London. After converting to Catholicism, he studied for the priesthood in Douai, France, and in Rome. Thomas entered the Society of Jesus in 1579, hoping to become a missionary in Indian. Following his ordination, he was sent to England and was almost immediately affected in Dover. It is likely that he celebrated his first Mass int eh Marshalsea Prison. Blessed was hanged on May 30, 1582, at Tyburn and was beatified with other English martyrs in 1886.
Holy God, whose power is made perfect in weakness: we honor you for the calling of Joan of Arc, who, though young, rose up in valor to bear your standard for her country, and endured with grace and fortitude both victory and defeat; and we pray that we, like Jeanne, may bear witness to the truth that is in us to friends and enemies alike, and, encouraged by the companionship of your saints, give ourselves bravely to the struggle for justice in our time; through Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(from Holy Women, Holy Men)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.