Today, May 30th, is the feast of one of my favorite saints and patronesses, Saint Joan of Arc. She is the patron saint of France, of imprisoned people; martyrs; opposition of Church authorities; and people ridiculed for their piety. .
In her day, the English were allied with the Burgundians in a war against the rest of France. Joan was compelled by voices of her favorite saints to take up arms in defence of her country. Dressed in a suit of white armor, she led the French in battle against the English, who retreated, believing that she was in league with the devil. She continued to battle against the English, with dwindling support, until she was eventually captured and tried as a witch. She was found guilty and at the scaffold she pleaded guilty in exchange for a pardon from the Church. However, since the English had no intention of releasing her from prison, she quickly renounced her confession and resumed wearing men's clothing. For this they publicly burned her at the stake for witchcraft and heresy. .
Eyewitnesses described the scene of the execution by burning on 30 May 1431. Tied to a tall pillar at the Vieux-Marché in Rouen, she asked two of the clergy, Fr.Martin Ladvenu and Fr.Isambart de la Pierre, to hold a crucifix before her. An English soldier also constructed a small cross that she put in the front of her dress. After she died, the English raked back the coals to expose her charred body so that no one could claim she had escaped alive. They then burned the body twice more, to reduce it to ashes and prevent any collection of relics, and cast her remains into the Seine River.
The Church reversed its decision in 1455. Pope Benedict XV canonized her on 16 May 1920, at Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. .
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