Illustrated Catholic Family Annual – Joan of Arc

illustration of Saint Joan of Arc, artist unknown, printed in the 1875 Illustrated Catholic Family AnnualArticle

Joan of Arc, known as “Maid of Orleans,” was born on 6 January 1412, in the village of Domremy, in Lorraine. France. Her parents were poor, and, as she was the fifth child, she received little or no instruction, but was employed principally in minding her father’s sheep. At the age of 13 she was the subject of supernatural visitations, and at 18 openly declared that she was called by God to deliver her country from the hands of the English, who were then invading it, and to crown the king. An outrage in her native village by the enemy decided her purpose of entering on her ” mission ” at once. With the aid of an uncle she applied to the Governor of Vaucouleurs, in May, 1428, and after some delay he granted her an audience, but treated her pretensions with such scorn that she returned to her uncle. At last the governor, pressed by her entreaties, sent her to Chinon, where the Dauphin held his court. Introduced into a crowd of courtiers, from whom the king was undistinguished, she singled him out at once. Her claims were now submitted to a severe scrutiny. She was handed over to an ecclesiastical commission. She was sent to Poitiers to be examined by the faculties of that famous university, who found no reason to suppose she was under the influence of what was called the “black art” or satanic influence. Her wish to lead the army of her king was granted. A suit of armor was made for her. A consecrated sword, which she described as buried in the Church of Saint Catherine, at Fierbois, was brought and placed in her hand. Thus equipped, she put herself at the head of 10,000 troops under the generalship of Dunois, threw herself upon the English, who were besieging Orleans, routed them, and in a week forced them to raise the siege. Several other successful exploits followed. The presence of the “Maid of Orleans” and her consecrated banner struck such terror into her enemies that in less than three months Charles was crowned king at Rheims, Joan standing at his side, dressed in full armor. Her promised work was now done, her vow fulfilled, and she wished to go home to her parents. This Dunois would not let her do, but, it is said, forced her to stay, that he might have her influence with him still. But, as she predicted, her victories were over. In an attack on Paris, in 1429, she was repulsed and wounded, and the next year, in a sortie from Compiegne, then beleaguered by the English, she was taken prisoner, 23 May 1430, and was at once carried to the fortress of Beaurevoir. Here she made an unsuccessful attempt to escape, and was then taken to Rouen. The University of Paris demanded, and received, letters-patent from the King of England to try her on a charge of sorcery. The examination lasted several months, and resulted in a conviction; and the verdict was that such acts as hers were diabolical, and merited the punishment of fire. The sentence was read to her, and the alternative offered of submission or the stake. The terrified girl put her mark to a recantation, and was taken back to prison. Here she said she heard “voices” again, and, a man’s clothes being put in her cell to tempt her, she put them on. This was taken as a virtual relapse into sorcery, and she was taken to the market-place in Rouen, where a huge pile of wood was erected, and the unfortunate Joan of Arc was burned on the last day of May, 1431. The infamy of this transaction lies heavily on all concerned in it – upon the Burgundians who gave her up, upon the English who allowed her execution and did the deed, and the French who would not prevent it, and upon the cowardly king who owed so much to her, yet took no step to avenge her, but waited for ten years after her barbarous death before he laid the matter before the Pope, who reversed the process by which she was condemned, pronouncing her “a martyr to her religion, her country, and her king.” Her character was spotless. She was distinguished for her purity, innocence, and modesty. Her hand never shed blood. Her gentle dignity and bearing impressed all who knew her, and restrained the brutality of her soldiers. Several lives of her have been written, and orations pronounced on her memory, one especially by the present Bishop of Orleans, Mgr. Dupanloup. The Abbé Lehman, a convert from Judaism, delivered a panegyric on her on the occasion of her last fete, a copy of which was sent to the Holy Father, who replied in a most felicitous manner, in which occur the following words: “It is with great satisfaction that we received your panegyric on that celebrated young girl who, when France was in misfortune and surrounded by enemies, was sent to her in an admirable manner to help her, and who illustrated her country not only by her faith and noble deeds, but by her wonderful courage and patience in the midst of affliction…. We rejoice that to you has been confided the mission of exposing and placing in relief the extraordinary mission and career of this wonderful virgin, her blameless and spotless life, her piety and great deeds, and the astonishing services she rendered her country.” Proceedings have actually been instituted with a view to the canonization of this noble virgin martyr; and a committee of theologians has been appointed to investigate her whole career in order to prepare the necessary documents.

Her likeness, which we give above, is one drawn by Marie Edmé Pau, who left a manuscript work, which was found after her death, and has been published in France in the most elegant manner possible; its title is, History of Our Little Sister, Joan of Arc, by Marie Edmée;.

We also give a picture of Mademoiselle Pau, drawn by herself, and found amongst her papers after her death. A short sketch of her noble life may not prove uninteresting.

MLA Citation

  • “Joan of Arc”. Illustrated Catholic Family Annual, 1875. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 January 2017. Web. 23 February 2017. <>