Today I want to talk about a story that is near and dear to my heart. The story of the Maid or Orleans, Joan of Arc. Her story shows us how one person, in response to God’s call can change the world.

When I was young I saw Joan of Arc on TV (with Ingrid Bergman – 1948; later I saw Leelie Sobieski in the same roll 2001; and one of my favorite actresses Mila Jovovich as The Messenger.) In this story a teenage girl believed she was visited by a Divine visitation and called upon to save France from British domination. For an uneducated teen in the later Middle Ages to come forward (there was also a prophecy of a Maid from Orleans saving France that she seemed to be unaware of,) impress herself on the nobility of the time, and lead the armies of France to break the hold of the British on the Kingdom of France makes me think she really was answering God’s call.

There are many stories of miracles surrounding her story. As expected, scholars who weren’t there, doubt anything that does not match their experience. But in my life, I have experienced miracles and many of the ones surrounding Joan of Arc have the ring of truth. At least in my own experience and study of Divine revelation and experience and relationship with the Divine. I also think the results speak for themselves.

God has a long history of using the weak and the outcast to humble the mighty.

The mighty have a long history of killing (martyring) God’s messengers. Note, they don’t stop God’s plan but they still respond petulantly and violently to being humbled. Some may think that death is a severe price to pay but taken on its whole it is not really. You see, we all will die. However, most of us will not die for a cause that changes history, and the promise of eternal reward in heaven for a death that we all must suffer – whether we serve God or not – is not that high of a price to pay. IMHO. One thing that is true for all of us is that none of us will get out of this life alive. However, it is sad when people die without ever having truly lived.

I think Joan of Arc truly lived a full life – even if it was crammed into a few years. She died at the age of 19 but we still talk about her almost a thousand years later. And, as one of my pastors used to say whenever someone did a good deed, “There is another star for your Crown of Righteousness.” (Perhaps I will talk about the verse that comment comes from some day.)

That is what happened to Saint Joan of Arc. The elite she humbled responded violently and viciously to being humbled. The British captured her and tried her for witchcraft, and if you read accounts of the trial, it seems that these “scholars” of the church at her trial were unable to trick this ignorant girl into incriminating herself. Nevertheless, she was ultimately burned as a relapsed heretic and was accused by the British at the time of being a witch. Later, the Pope declared her a Saint (and being declared a Saint is never something that is done on a whim – despite some popular opinions to the contrary – there is a long detailed process of verification before anyone is declared a Saint.) Anyone who has studied the lives of the Saints will find that nearly all of them are paragons of faith and virtue and we could do worse than to use them as examples for our own lives.

The movies are interesting, and the biographies vary in their quality, but I like studying how things actually were compared to movie presentations. I enjoy movies for their own sake as entertainment even though they all are subject to errors and interpretation.

One thing I have turned to many times in my life is the Prayer of Saint Joan. It reminds me that even when I face trials they are nothing compared to what she faced and yet she remained true to her Divine call and Mission. A mission we all have if we but find it, and that will probably not demand as much from us as it did from the Maid of Orleans.

St. Joan of Arc – In the face of your enemies, in the face of harassment, ridicule, and doubt, you held firm in your faith. Even in your abandonment, alone and without friends, you held firm in your faith. Even as you faced your own mortality, you held firm in your faith. I pray that I may be as bold in my faith as you, St. Joan. I ask that you ride alongside me in my own battles. Help me be mindful that what is worthwhile can be won when I persist. Help me believe in my ability to act well and wisely, Amen.


It reminds me of another one who spoke of holding true to a cause, although he was not a Saint, by any means: