Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day for Joan of Arc: Joan’s Feast Day & Death Anniversary

May 30th is the anniversary of Joan of Arc’s death and is also her Feast Day which is a chance to honor and remember her in a similar way as we do other soldiers on Memorial Day Weekend.  It always gives me pause to remember that Joan’s final recorded words were “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” which to me was her final exclamation point as to the true focus of her life.  Saint Joan of Arc loved God more than anything else which is what made her such a “brilliantly shining light” in this dark world.  Even in the final and darkest moments of  Joan’s life her light shone brightly which impressed even her enemies to the point that several made professions of faith as later described by one of the men participating in Joan’s execution: The judges who were present, and even several of the English[Joan’s enemies], were moved by this to great tears and weeping, and indeed several of these same English, recognized God's hand and made professions of faith when they saw her make so remarkable an end. “(you can read several touching eyewitness accounts of Joan’s death on the page devoted to Joan of Arc’s Feast Day)

This year on Joan’s Feast Day, which is taking place during the 600th anniversary year of her birth, let us all learn from Joan to have the same ultimate focus:  Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Joan's Victory at Orleans

On Sunday May 8, 1429, Saint Joan of Arc achieved complete victory at Orleans and fulfilled the promise she had made only few months earlier to liberate the city.  On the morning of May 8th following the previous day's spectacular storming and taking of the fort Les Tourelles by the French, the English defenders remaining around Orleans left their siege positions and assembled in order of battle in an open field near the city.  The French forces came out of Orleans to oppose the English and for an hour the two armies faced each other.  During this time Joan called for mass to be held.  A citizen of Orleans, Jean de Champeaux, later testified as to what happened next:  "The masses completed, Joan said to look and see whether the English were facing them.   'No, the English are turned towards Meung' someone replied.  'In God's name,' Joan replied, 'They are going. Let them go, while we go give thanks to God and pursue them no farther, since today is Sunday."  And thus total victory was achieved at Orleans as the English retreated away from Orleans.  Joan and her army returned to Orleans and celebrated with the citizens of Orleans, a celebration that is renewed every year on May 8th in honor of the "Maid of Orleans."
Video of Annual Celebration in Orleans honoring St. Joan
Visit Orleans Fete Jeanne Darc for more info about this year's celebrations.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Joan's Longest Day!

"The next day May 7, 1429 would be long 
and hard, but would end with spectacular success.
You asked Father Pasquerel to always stay near 
your side, so he could aid you in your distress.
'Tomorrow blood will flow from my body, above 
the breast,' to the father you had to confess."
 from Maid of Heaven

On May 7 in 1429 at Orleans St. Joan of Arc led her forces against the seemingly impregnable fortress Les Tourelles. During the course of the fighting Joan was severely wounded when an arrow pierced her body just above her breast. Without Joan to lead them the soldiers and their commanders quickly lost their resolve fearing the worst without Joan and the assault on Les Tourelles appeared as if it would end in failure. Then the miraculous occurred when Joan re-appeared on the battlefield and seized her banner and lead the French army forward to make another assault upon Les Tourelles. Jean d'Aulon, who was the head of Joan's military household, later recalled the amazing turn of events: ". . . the lords and the captains who were with her, seeing that they could not well gain it this day, considering how late it was and also that they were all very tired and worn out, agreed among them to sound the retreat for the army. This was done, and, at the sound of the trumpet call, each one retreated for the day. During this retreat, [d'Aulon] who had been carrying the standard of the Pucelle and still holding it upright in front of the boulevard was fatigued and worn-out, and gave the standard to one named Le Basque, who was with the Lord of Villars. And because [d'Aulon] knew Le Basque to be a brave man, and he feared that harm would come from the retreat, and that the fortress and the Boulevard would remain in the hands of the enemy, he had the idea that if the standard were pushed ahead, due to the great affection in which it was held by the soldiers, they could by this means win the boulevard. And then [d'Aulon] asked Le Basque if he would follow him when he entered and went to the foot of the boulevard; he said and swore he would this. And then [d'Aulon] entered the ditch and went up to the base of the side of the Boulevard, covering himself with a shield for fear the stones, and left his companion on the other side, believing that he would follow him step-by-step. But when the Pucelle saw her standard in the hand of Le Basque, because she believed that she had lost it, as [d'Aulon] who had been carrying it had gone into the trench, she came and took the standard by the end in such a way that he had to let it go, crying, "Ha! My standard! My standard!" And she shook the standard in such a way that the one who is testifying imagined that others might think that she was making a sign to the others by doing this. And then he who was speaking cried: "Ha, Basque! Is this what you promised me?" And then Le Basque tugged at the standard that he dragged it from the hand of the Pucelle, and after this, he went to [d'Aulon] and brought the standard. Because of these things, all those in the army of the Pucelle gathered together and rallied again, assailed this boulevard in such great fierceness that, a short time afterwards, the boulevard and the fortress were taken by them, and abandoned by the enemy, and the French entered the city of Orleans by the bridge . . ."
This was indeed Joan of Arc's Longest Day!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Joan’s Final Warning to English in Orleans

After Joan of Arc arrived in Orleans she continued to try to warn the English besieging the town to leave with two more letters (Joan first warned the English in a letter on March 22, 1429).  Joan sent a letter to Lord Talbot, the English leader in Orleans, that was later described by the “Bastard of Orleans” at her trial of rehabilitation as follows:

“She did in fact address to the English a letter, written in her mother tongue, to raise the siege or, if they refused, to attack them so strongly they would be forced to retire. This letter was addressed to my Lord Talbot. And I affirm that from that hour, while formerly the English with two hundred of theirs could put to flight a thousand of ours, it required only four or five hundred of our soldiers to combat all the power of the English, and we were so successful with the enemy that they no longer dared to leave their strongholds and bastilles."

Joan then had a letter shot into the fort Les Tourelles on May 5, 1429 that contained her final warning:

“You, men of England, who have no right in the kingdom of France, the King of Heaven sends word to you, and commands by me, Joan the Maid, that you leave your fortresses and return to your own country. Otherwise I will produce a clash of arms to be eternally remembered. This is the third and last time I will write to you, and I will not write to you any more. 
Jesus Maria
              Joan the Maid”