Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years. She embodied the natural goodness and valour of the human race in unexampled perfection. Unconquerable courage, infinite compassion, the virtue of the simple, the wisdom of the just, shone forth in her. She glorifies as she freed the soil from which she sprang.
Sir Winston Churchill
By the death of King Henry V in 1422 it seemed as if the English had succeeded in conquering France. Then God chose otherwise. Three years old at the time of Agincourt, by the time of the end of her short life on May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc had set in motion forces that would result in the utter defeat of the English. She transformed a squalid dynastic squabble into a crusade for the French. One of the examples of the direct intervention of God in human affairs, the brief history altering life of Saint Joan of Arc has attracted the admiration of the most unlikely of men, including the Protestant Sir Winston Churchill, and the agnostic Mark Twain who called his book on Joan of Arc the finest thing he ever wrote. She was not canonized until 1920, but almost all of her contemporaries who met her had no doubt that she was a saint sent by God. Some of the English who were present as she was burned at the stake cried out that they were all damned because she was a saint. Jean Tressard, the Treasurer of Henry VI, King of England, wrote the following soon after the execution of Joan: ”We are all lost for it is a good and holy woman that has been burned. I believe her soul is in the hands of God, and I believe damned all who joined in her condemnation”. With Saint Joan humanity came into contact with a messenger from God, and the result to her was as predictable as it was lamentable. However, the outcome of her mission was exactly as she had predicted. The weak Dauphin that she had crowned would reign as Charles VII and end the Hundred Years War in victory for France, something that none of his contemporaries thought remotely possible before Joan embarked on her mission. With courage and faith she altered the course of the history of France and of all the world.
On January 26, 2011 Pope Benedict spoke of Saint Joan: Continue Reading