Joan of Arc



Joan of Arc Newsletter
 Hot Issues : News : Deals


Jehanne: Portraits of a Saint


Becoming a Saint

learn about this and other portraits from Rouen
Portrait: Say a Mass for Me
church Sainte Jeanne d'Arc, Rouen

"I had a daughter born in lawful wedlock who grew up amid the fields and pastures. I had her baptized and confirmed and brought her up in the fear of God. I taught her respect for the traditions of the Church.... Because the people had suffered so much, she had a great compassion for them in her heart and despite her youth she would fast and pray for them with great devotion and fervor. She never thought, spoke or did anything against the faith. Certain enemies had her arraigned in a religious trial. Despite her disclaimers and appeals, both tacit and expressed, and without any help given to her defense, she was put through a perfidious, violent, iniquitous and sinful trial. The judges condemned her falsely, damnably and criminally, and put her to death in a cruel manner by fire. For the damnation of their souls and in notorious, infamous and irreparable loss to me, Isabelle... I demand that her name be restored."
Isabelle Romée, Jehanne's mother, November 7, 1455

If you’re anything like me, when I was first introduced to Joan of Arc I really had no understanding of the process of becoming a saint, or more formally, canonization. Once I discovered what being a saint meant I had a renewed appreciation for our girl, Jehanne.  The Catholic Church reserves this title for holy souls who show heroic virtue and union with Christ. Determining such a heavenly thing is arduous and difficult but once it’s understood a true appreciation for Jehanne’s spiritual makeup might be formed. So then, how does one be declared a saint and what does it mean?


The first and often most difficult step is beatification. The promoters of the cause are asked to vouch for four authentic miracles in order to secure beatification. One miracle can be dispensed if the candidate has founded a religious order. In Joan’s case, the Pope granted dispensation because she had saved France. This seemed fair enough!  So then, three approved miracles were necessary for Joan’s beatification. Three nuns, all living in France, received documented cures attributed to Joan of Arc’s intervention. These miracles were accepted as authentic.

Once a person is beatified (or declared blessed), the faithful are allowed to venerate these individuals. However, this is not universally recognized and usually limited to the towns connected to the person.


The next step, once beatification has been declared, is canonization. Two more miracles must be proven for canonization. Two such miracles were attributed to Joan of Arc which sealed her sainthood—a healing from tuberculosis and the healing of a hole in the sole of a woman’s foot.

Joan of Arc's Journey to Sainthood

signature of Charles VIIJoan’s journey to sainthood started in the year 1449, when Rouen, the city of Joan’s martyrdom, was recaptured by the French. Eighteen years had transpired since Joan’s burning. Her memory was not forgotten. In 1449, King Charles gave orders to Guillame Bouillé, his counselor and theologian, to make an investigation into her trial. The King wrote that he wished “to know the truth about this trial and the manner in which it was conducted”. Bouillé thoroughly examined seven witnesses and after hearing their testimonies was convinced that the trial must be considered null and void. In his summary he indicated that the King shouldn’t be associated with a person who had been sentenced as a witch and a revision must be undertaken as soon as possible.

Trial of Rehabilitation

Politics obviously influenced this new trial; however, this doesn’t alter the fact that the Trial of Rehabilitation brought much evidence to light, clearly proving the illegality and numerous errors in procedure of the first trial.

The new trial, the Trial of Rehabilitation, was opened in Paris on November 7, 1455. Four examinations were held, one in Domrèmy, Rouen, Orléans and Paris, with one hundred and fifty witnesses heard. The verdict declared the Trial of Condemnation from 1431 was invalid on the grounds of procedure and the judges having lacked impartiality. In the Old Market Square in Rouen, where Joan had been burned, a cross was raised in honor of her injustice. The Trial of Rehabilitation was the first step in clearing Joan’s good name. The evolution of her reputation from witch to holy maid had begun.

Petitioning Pope Pius IX

Four hundred fourteen years later, in 1869, Bishop Dupanloup of Orléans had the ingenious idea of inviting all the bishops of the towns which Joan had marched through on her way to Reims to the annual May 8 commemoration of the town’s liberation. The Bishop made an emotional speech about the importance of Joan as a patriot and a Catholic. The eleven bishops present, along with Bishop Dupanloup, made a solemn appeal to Pope Pius IX in Rome to begin the process of canonization. Their appeal was the following:

“Not only Orléans and France but the whole world venerate God’s acts through Joan of Arc, the piety and enthusiasm of this young girl, the purity and unbending self-abnegation with which she always carried out the will of God, as well as the reputation for holiness which crowned her life both in Domremy, where she tended her father’s cattle as a modest peasant girl, on the battlefield where she showed the skill and courage of a great captain, and at the stake where she displayed her unalterable loyalty to the Christian faith and the Apostolic See.

“The Roman Popes have already defended, shielded and praised this admirable heroine, and it is the general wish that Your Holiness now honor and exalt her memory. This would constitute a just tribute to Joan, who in freeing her country also saved it from the heresy which might have become a danger in the future. It would also constitute a title of honor to the French people, who have done so much for religion and for the Throne of Saint Peter, and who also have deserved the name of ‘God’s soldier’”.

In 1894, Rome began its work towards the Bishops’ petition. Joan’s beatification was decreed by Pope Pius X on April 11, 1909.

Saint Joan of ArcSaint Joan of Arc

Joan was canonized with great festivity on May 16, 1920, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, finally restoring her reputation among the faithful. That same year, the French government officially made May 8 a national holiday. Her celebrated feast day is May 30, the day of her death.

Whether one is Catholic or not, Saint Joan of Arc serves as an example of a holy soul who conformed herself to God’s will. She was then given all necessary means to accomplish the tremendous tasks appointed to her. In the words of Pope Pius X, “Joan has shone like a new star destined to be the glory not only of France but of the Universal Church as well.”


go on to Prayers and Poems to Saint Joan >>

|Home|   |Back to Top|   |Contact Us|   |Copyright ©|   |Privacy Policy|   |Site Map|

Website design by Sojourn Photography