St. Joan of Arc: "When did truth become heresy?"

St. Joan of Arc, whose feast day is today, is said to have once asked the King Charles VII of France what he would call baker who slices his bread while its still in the oven.

The king responded: “Not a baker.”

She then asked what he would call a king who slices up his kingdom, to which he had no response.

Joan fought to unite all of France during the fifteenth century during the Hundred Year’s War between England and France and the French civil war, which was fought between the house of Orleans and the house of Burgundy.

You see, Joan believed God was telling her to unite France through the voices of three saints. In following God’s will, she made many enemies and ultimately died at the stake.

Before Charles had been made king and while he was the Dauphin, Joan was sent at her own request together with troops, which were under her charge, into battle. They were successful in saving Orleans and hence she gained the title “maid of Orleans.”

Later she played a major role at Patay and played a large role in the coronation of Charles. Many, in fact most, resented her ascent in position and prestige.

Not long after this, she was captured by the duke of Burgundy, who sold her to the English who of course viewed her as an enemy with potential to harm them. Of course they didn’t believe she had received visions from God. Sadly, Charles didn’t lift a finger to help save her during this mess.

It was at this time when she asked: “When did truth become heresy?” A good quote, I think, because our culture today seems to value truth as heresy, to the detriment of everyone.

She was imprisoned and tried in the court of Bishop Cauchon, who, suffice it to say, did not believe in her visions and was not interested in extending mercy to her. This ecclesiastical court determined that her visions were false and declared her a heretic.

Bishop Cauchon handed Joan over to secular authorities who judged the best punishment was to burn Joan at the stake in the marketplace in Rouen.

Before the fire was ignited, she requested a crucifix be upheld, level with her eyes. The request was granted. She died that day, May 30, 1431, when she was only 19.

Not all that long after, Joan’s family asked that the case be opened again. Pope Callistus III granted the request and in 1456, the ecclesiastical court determined she was not guilty.

She wasn’t made a saint until 1920, when Pope Benedict XV concluded the canonization process, which itself helped relations between the Vatican and France.

St. Joan of Arc: Pray for us.