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.”
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