St Joan of Arc – Patroness of France and of Soldiers

Though she was a simple peasant girl without formal schooling, Joan’s inherent wisdom, was evident at her trial, and transcended that of the brilliant minds of the Church, whose representatives were often outwitted in their attempts to confuse and humiliate a young woman, who dared to be different. According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (2011a):

The words of Jesus, who said that God’s mysteries are revealed to those who have a child’s heart while they remain hidden to the learned and the wise who have no humility (cf. Lk 10:21), spring to mind. Thus, Joan’s judges were radically incapable of understanding her or of perceiving the beauty of her soul. They did not know that they were condemning a Saint.

This lone girl stood before more than “131 theologians, canon lawyers, clergymen and abbots … most of them [participated] as assessors, or advisers, all but eight of them French” (Hobbins, 2005:4). Joan stood before the tribunal, and answered questions put to her, generally in a respectful and modest manner. She was not permitted to have a lawyer, or witnesses to testify in her defence. In addition, her responses were not documented according to what she had said, but according to what the lawyers thought she should say. What chance did a nineteen-year-old girl have in such a situation? The Church of the time had abandoned her. And unfortunately, its clergy did not listen. She was “Misunderstood for her demeanour, her actions and her way of living the faith” (Pope Francis, 2019:para.53).