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Catholics and people worldwide celebrate St. Joan of Arc — a heroine who fought for both God and country — on her feast day, May 30. On that day, nearly 600 years ago, the Maid of Orléans was condemned to death after being convicted of heresy.
The French peasant was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431, at just 19 years old. She died while crying out one name: “Jesus.”
Joan of Arc — known in her home country as Jeanne d’Arc — fought in the Hundred Years’ War against England and is celebrated as the warrior who liberated Orléans and led Charles VII of France to the throne. She did this, she said, while guided by the voices or visions of St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Margaret of Antioch, and the archangels St. Michael and St. Gabriel.
A rehabilitation trial was held 1455-56, and her conviction of heresy was nullified.
She was canonized in 1920. Shortly after, English translations of the transcripts from her trial were published.
“Joan of Arc did not know how to read or write, but the depths of her soul can be known thanks to two sources of exceptional historical value: the two Trials that concern her,” Benedict XVI said in 2011. The first, the Trial of Condemnation, contains the transcript of the interrogations she endured in her final months.
“Joan’s judges were radically incapable of understanding her or of perceiving the beauty of her soul,” the pontiff said. “They did not know that they were condemning a Saint.”
Here are 15 quotes taken from her trial and examinations, edited by T. Douglas Murray. Other translations, including the first unabridged English translation by W.P. Barrett, are also available online.
1. Asked whether she knew she was in God’s grace, the saint answered: “If I am not, may God place me there; if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest in all the world if I knew that I were not in the grace of God.”
2. “Without the grace of God I should not know how to do anything.”
3. “Take care what you are doing; for in truth I am sent by God.”
4. “All I have done is by Our Lord’s command…I have done nothing in the world but by the order of God.”
5. “The poor folk came to me readily, because I never did them any unkindness: on the contrary, I loved to help them.”
6. “I do not know if I am in mortal sin, and, if it please God, I will never so be; I do not believe I have done its works; nor, please God, have I ever done or ever will do deeds which charge my soul!”
7. “I never said that Jesus had failed me.”
8. “As to that passage in my answer of which you remind me, ‘All that I did, I did by the counsel of Our Lord,’ it should be completed thus: ‘All that I did well.’”
9. “I have a good Master, that is God; it is to Him I look in everything and to none other.”
10. “I rely upon God, my Creator, for everything. I love Him with all my heart.”
11. “God must be served first.”
12. “And that which God hath made me do, hath commanded or shall command, I will not fail to do for any man alive.”
13. “I would rather die than revoke what God has made me do.”
14. “My words and deeds are all in God’s Hands: in all, I wait upon Him.”
15. “I believe firmly what my Voices have told me, that I shall be saved; I believe it as firmly as if I were already there.”
A statue of Devasahayam Pillai at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Kottar, India. / Kumbalam via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).
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