The unique spiritual events in the life of St Joan of Arc

The remarkable heavenly graces in the life of St. Joan of Arc

"Act, and God will act." -St Joan of Arc

Even the greatest Saints have occasionally completely misinterpreted the prophesies given to them
Towards the end of her harsh and very unjust imprisonment, a Voice from heaven revealed to St Joan of Arc:
"You will be released on May 30th!"

Oh, how her heart leaped with joy at the revelation of her imminent release from the torturous prison, after having suffered a rigorous imprisonment for one year! She gloriously shared this great news of her forthcoming release with the few people who were allowed to visit and attend to her.

What she didn't know, but soon learned, was that the promised "release" on that predicted day consisted of the terror of her being burned alive at the stake, her soul thus being released from this life, to fly to heaven to be with her Jesus. -How different is the perspective from heaven than that of us here on earth! "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8) And so we see how even the greatest Saints can completely misinterpret what would seem to be a very simple and straightforward prophesy.

Thus we ourselves would be very wise not to have too much confidence in our capacity to understand and interpret the messages from heaven! For in her great humility, St Joan of Arc recognized her human frailty, and during her tortuous imprisonment and trial she told her friends that out of her human weakness she could not be sure what things she might say under torture or duress – and told them to please give witness to others of her intention to serve the Lord faithfully, regardless of whatever she might say while in agony. As it turned out, she publicly kept her faith in God to the painful end – but in her great humility she recognized her human frailty and thus she made provisions for it if she weakened. Oh, the wisdom of a 19 year old that shines before men!

St. Joan of Arc prays and brings a dead baby back to life so that it might be baptized. -Baby said to have been dead for 3 days
In the Spring of 1430, Joan had just arrived in Lagny-sur-Marne, France, where she was to lead the French forces there against the English. It was there, in the midst of war, that the miracle occurred.

According to her own testimony, she was called upon to join some other young women who were praying in a Church beseeching God and the Blessed Virgin Mary on behalf of a dead baby, that it might be revived long enough to baptize it. Here is Joan's own testimony
"I was told that the girls of the town were gathered before the statue of our Lady and wanted me to come and pray to God and our Lady to bring a baby back to life. So I went and prayed with the others. And finally life appeared in him, and he yawned three times. Then he was baptized, and soon afterwords he died, and was buried in consecrated ground.

For three days, I was told, he had shown no signs of life, and he was as black as my jacket. But when he yawned his color began to come back. And I was on my knees there with the other girls, praying before our Lady."

Her obedience to the heavenly "Voices"
During her unjust trial before the tribunal, Joan revealed under oath some details of who were the heavenly voices and visitors that guided and led her into battle against the English, and how often they came to her. The heavenly visits began in the summer of 1424 at age 13, when she says she was suddenly "...surrounded by a great light, and then I heard a revelation from God through a Voice which told me to be prayerful, to frequent the sacraments of the Church, and to always trust in the Lord for help."

At first she did not know whom the Voice was, but on the third occasion she then "knew" it was the voice of an Angel. During her trial she specifically stated that during her lifetime she had received numerous visits from 4 heavenly Visitors:  St. Michael the Archangel and the Angel Gabriel, particularly leading up to, and during the battles against the English. The two other primary heavenly visitors who guided and helped her were St. Catherine of Alexandria and also St Margaret of Antioch.

Without going into details here--for there are numerous biographies on the internet about St Joan of Arc---suffice it to state that through the holy Will of God, these heavenly voices and visions led the teenage Joan to become the leader of the French army, who through her extraordinary courage and guidance, eventually ousted the occupying English forces from France, and restored Charles, the king of France, to his rightful throne.

While many biographers rightly point out that Joan was almost * always obedient to her "Voices", even unto her horrible death at the stake, it should also be pointed out that she also remained obedient to the Church, as is revealed on a number of occasions during her trial, where she sought to obey even the often unjust requests and directives of Bishop Pierre Cauchon, her primary accuser. And during her trial when asked if she would submit herself to the determination of the Church, she replied:
"I refer myself to our Lord who sent me, to Our Lady, and to all of the blessed Sants in Paradise. It seems to me that our Lord and the Church are one and the same, and that no one should make difficulties about this. Why do you make difficulties about Them being one and the same?"

The fact remains that she was never given any directives by the legitimate Church authority concerning her heavenly visitors, so she remained free throughout her life to obey her "Voices." Had her priest spiritual director, confessor or other legitimate Church authority told her otherwise, one can only assume that she would have obeyed their directives. Yet we must concede something here---During her trial when she was asked about obedience to the Church, she replied: “They [the Voices] do not order me to disobey the Church, but God must be served first.”

*One has to say that she was almost always obedient to her Voices, because on one occasion while in prison she jumped out of the window of the  Beaurevoir Tower in an effort to escape, and she herself admits that: "Almost every day St. Catherine warned me not to jump; that God would help me and also the people of Compiegne. [The English were then advancing on the city of  Compiegne] And I said to St Catherine that if God intended to help the people of Compiegne, then I intended to be there helping too."  The height of the jump was said to be at least 65 feet, nevertheless she only received a few bumps and bruises, but she was immediately recaptured. Afterwards, her testimony during the trial reveals that she was deeply repentant for having disobeyed St. Catherine.

To sum up very succinctly this topic of her obedience to the heavenly voices, His Excellency Thomas Basin, bishop of Lisieux wrote the following not long after her holy death:

"Regarding her mission, and the apparitions and revelations that she said she had, everyone has the right to believe as he pleases, to reject them or not, according to his point-of-view or way of thinking. What is important regarding these visions is the fact that Joan had herself no shadow of a doubt regarding their reality, and it was their effect upon her, and not her natural inclination, that impelled her to leave her parents and her home to undertake great perils and to endure great hardships — and, as it proved, a terrible death.  It was these visions and voices, and they alone, which enabled her to believe that she would succeed in saving her country and in placing her king on his throne.  It was these visions and voices which finally enabled her to do those marvelous deeds, and accomplish what appeared to all the world as impossible."

The greatest Saints are human too! In a moment of weakness, Joan momentarily renounces her visions and mission
On May 24, 1431 Joan was taken to a scaffold set up in the cemetery next to Saint-Ouen Church, and told that she would be burned immediately unless she signed a document renouncing her visions and that she must agree to stop wearing soldiers' clothing. Under deep duress after a years worth of privation in a torturous prison, she signed the document saying: "I would rather sign it than burn."

On May 28, Joan recanted her previous abjuration, donned men's apparel once more, and was accused of relapsing into heresy. In reply to this new charge of relapse she said:
"What I said, I said for fear of the fire. Since then, my Voices have told me that I did a very wicked thing in confessing that what I had done [by leading the war against the English] was not well done. They told me that God, through St. Catherine and St. Margaret, helped me to understand the great treason that I consented to by making that abjuration and revocation to save my own life, and that I was damning myself to save my life. If I should say that God had not sent me I should damn myself. It is true that God has sent me.

"Pray for those who persecute you"- St Joan of Arc pleads to her enemies to retreat before leading the attack against them
We may take yet another important lesson from the heroic life of St. Joan of Arc. Despite the fact that she is often portrayed with armor and sword, the truth is that she disliked bloodshed and longed for peace. She refused to wield her own sword in battle: it was used as a threat to the enemy and held aloft as a signal to her soldiers.

For about an hour prior to many of her battles, before leading the attack she would tearfully plead with the English soldiers to surrender or withdraw. She would have been perfectly happy for them to withdraw from the French positions they held, for she bore them no animosity. Usually during that hour she would be the recipient of the most vulgar and obscene taunts from the Englishmen. Once she was satisfied she could not persuade them to retreat, the battle commenced, and the teenage girl who had been tearfully pleading a few moments earlier, would encourage her men to fight heroically and fiercely.

Thus, she loved her enemies, bore them no ill will, and would have been perfectly content for them to withdraw to their own territory, and live in peace. Many of her fellow soldiers testified how after the bloody battles she often wept upon seeing the dead soldiers on both sides. There is even one occasion that is widely reported where she held one of the dying enemy soldiers in her arms during his last moments, encouraging him in making his confession to the accompanying priest.

Some notable replies from Joan at her trial an at her holy death
-“Do you know if you are in the grace of God?”
“If I am not, may God place me there; if I am, may God keep me there. I should be the saddest in all the world if I knew that I were not in the grace of God. But I think, if I were in a state of sin, the Voice would not come to me. And I wish that everyone heard It as I do! – Saturday, Feb. 24, 1431

-“Was it God who prescribed to you the dress of a man?” [Concerning her 40 pound suit of armor]
“What concerns this dress is a small thing – less than nothing. I did not take it by the advice of any man in the world. I did not take this dress or do anything but by the command of Our Lord and of the Angels.”

-“Which did you care for most, your banner or your sword?”
“Better, forty times better, my banner than my sword!”

-“In what likeness did Saint Michael appear to you?”
“I did not see a crown; and I know nothing of his dress.”

-Was he then naked?”
“Do you think God has not wherewithal to clothe him?”

Warning Joan of Arc issued to her judges:
"You say that you are my judge; take good heed of what you do, because in truth I am sent by God, and you put yourself in great peril. I give you this warning so that if our Lord punishes you for it, my duty to warn you is done." 

Joan of Arc's response to the threat of torture:
"Truly, if you were to tear me limb from limb and separate my soul from my body, I would not say anything more. Yet, if I did say anything, afterwards I would always declare that you made me say it by force!" 

Joan's response when she learned how she would die:
"Oh! Am I to be so horribly and cruelly treated? Alas! That my body, clean and whole, which has never been corrupted, should this day be consumed and burned to ashes! Ah! I would far rather have my head chopped off seven times over, than to be burned!" 

Joan speaking to Bishop Pierre Cauchon after learning of her impending execution:
"Bishop, I die through you" 

At her death, Joan asking for a crucifix to be held level with her eyes:
"Hold the crucifix up before my eyes so I may see it until I die." 

St. Joan of Arc's last words:
"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!" 
"I place trust in God, my creator, in all things; I love Him with all my heart." -St Joan of Arc
-St Joan of Arc, pray for us!


Anonymous said...

Two things that made an impression on me from her life is her momentary human weakness when at first how at the threat of being burned at the stake she renounced her visions and mission as inspired by God. Although she recanted her abjuration a few days later, it was nevertheless an important lesson to see that in their human frailty and weakness, even the saints can momentarily falter.

Also I found her obedience to her Voices to be inspiring also but there was that time where she jumped out of the tower when St. Catherine had repeatedly told her not to jump---So, once again we see her humanity, yet I find her human weaknesses to be very encouraging for my poor soul! Its good to see that even the greatest Saints faltered and made mistakes.

Ivan said...

Keep in mind that you are taking the English word that Joan recanted. The English hated Joan with an unnatural hatred. Why do you believe the English version of the trial?

There are very good reasons to believe that Joan never recanted. She was fearless in every battle. Joan wasn't naive. Joan knew that the English were going to kill her!

For all of the discrepancies in Joan's trial click on the link provided.

The True Trial of Saint Joan of Arc I. The condemnation (

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Steve,
You raise an interesting point. While it is possible that Joan never renounced her visions and mission, but the books that I used for this biography all state that she did. Nevertheless, all seem to agree that because she did renounce in a moment of weakness, she soon afterwards recanted her previous abjuration, which actually was to be the action which permitted her by law to be given the death sentence for "relapsing into heresy." The biographers state that up to that point, by law she could not have been given a death sentence simply for heresy and wearing men's clothing. They state that it was the "relapse into heresy" that actually allowed for her death penalty.

Thanks for your comments.
May God bless you and your loved ones,
Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

Some Witnesses Saw That When She Was Burned At The Stake,Her Soul Took The Shape Of A White Dove Out Of Her Chest And That Dove Flew To South.Many Englishmen Observed There Were No Burn Marks On Her Body And Later English Sailed Off Her Body In The Sea.

Joan Of Arc Is One Of The GREATEST Saint Ever Born.

David I. Christie said...

Entirely correct; Saint Joan also guards St. Mary Queen of Heaven!...;

David I. Christie said...

Thank you for helping me Saint Joan!...;

Anonymous said...

Saint Joan of Arc is one of my favorite Saints together with Saint Therese of lisieux and Saint Gemma Galgani. She is one of the greatest saints in history. Her death always makes me sad. She reminds me of the Saints of the Old Testament, like Deborah(book of judges),Joshua, etc. Warrior-like Saint. She is not the stereotypical Medieval saint that achieves holiness in a monastery or as a hermit doing extraordinary penance. All of us as catholics belonging to the church militant are called to engage on battle,in a spiritual battle. St.Joan engaged in a earthly and spiritual battle. But we engage in a spiritual war all the time. St.Therese of Lisieux had a great devotion to Saint Joan of Arc and dressed as St.Joan for a play. I recommend a book about St.Joan called: " Joan of Arc:By herself and her witnesses " by french historian Regine pernoud. The author unlike many others,doesn't write about her personal opinion but writes from a historical point of view and the book has the words St.Joan herself said.

Ivan said...

Joan never denied her voices! When are you people going to get it right? The English were her enemies and they put that in the record to sully her reputation!

Unknown said...

I agree with you. Pierre cauchon made Joan sign an adjuration(but Joan didn't know how to read or write,How could she know what was written there? She only learned to sign her name) in which was promised her that she was going to be taken to an ecclesiastical prison of the church guarded by nuns,not men,and given holy communion if she promised never again to bear arms or dress as a soldier. She did sign the document but didn't understood what it meant exactly. She didn't have a counselor with her to help her! Pierre cauchon did not keep his promises and joan was taken back to prison guarded by English guards. An English lord tried to rape her and Joan resumed wearing men's clothes as a protection because men's clothing was more difficult to remove than women's clothes and it was the wearing of men's clothes again what condemned her to death. Pierre cauchon and the other clerics didn't keep their promises to Joan because she wasn't in an ecclesiastical prison. Since Joan resumed wearing men's clothes they burned her as a relapsed heretic. You can say she is like another St.Maria Goretti, a Martyr of purity! Why? Because men's clothing was the only protection she had against sexual assault in a prison guarded by vulgar soldiers. St.joan of arc died saying that her voices were from God and that they didn't deceived her. I recommend the webmaster to read the book 'The retrial of Joan of Arc ' by Regine Pernoud. During the rehabilitation trial since many of Joan's accusers were still alive they invented that Joan had denied her voices to tarnish her reputation and excuse themselves.

Marie Alice Devoille said...

Thhanks for this