My Lord, Jean, Count of Mortain and Porcien-en-Rhetélois: Your desire to preserve Jeanne's memory is nothing less than divinely inspired. Thank you for listening to God's will in your life. May you be exceedingly blessed by Our Dear Lord for this momentous endeavor you have undertaken.
Father Jean Pasquerel
After our capture outside Compiegne, Jeanne's brother Peter and I were forced to leave her and Jean d'Aulon behind. This is a sorrow that haunts me still because on that day my heart was rent asunder. I looked at her face for as long as I could, saying my silent good-bye.
We were thrown into a dark, foul smelling prison surrounded by our comrades who suffered the same fate as we. I tried the best I could to keep my fellow prisoners' and my hopes alive with the though that some how, some way, we would see our beloved Maid again. I prayed for Jeanne and for us at every Mass that I said while I was there.
I will never forget that horrible day when our English jailers came into the cell to tell us the news. They were drunk with joy as they cheered and yelled with glee. "The Witch is dead!" At first we did not comprehend what they were saying. "Rejoice with us for your loathsome witch maid was burned to death last week in the old market-square of Rouen!"
We reacted as one man with shouts of, "You lie, you bastards! You liars! God would never allow such at thing to happen to His servant!"
They laughed even harder. "Think what you will, but what remained of that filthy witch was gathered up and thrown into the Seine where the waters devoured her vile ashes."
For months Peter and I refused to believe it. It was not until new French prisoners confirmed this unbelievable news that we began to mourn her loss. This was the darkest period of my life. It took all my will not to blame or curse God for what had happen to Jeanne. I told Peter, but I was really telling myself, that we had to hold onto our faith and trust in Jesus even more now than we had ever done before. So we began to pray for Jeanne's soul, asking God to give her eternal rest and life with Him in Heaven.
The remainder of our time in that brutal prison became a blur. It was only after my order got around to paying my ransom and Peter was allowed to negotiate with his English captors to give them all his assets, thus totally impoverishing himself, that we saw the first light of day and could breath fresh air and drink clean water.
It was hard to believe that we had been confined for five years! We emerged from prison living skeletons. Our clothing had been reduced to foul smelling tattered rags that hung from our bodies.
Peter suggested that we head for his home in Domremy and I agreed. How we got there only God knows. I do remember reaching the front door of Domremy's Saint Remi church when I collapsed into an unconscious state.
The next thing that I remembered was the gentle touch of a woman's hand. At first I thought it was Jeanne's hand but when I opened my eyes I saw an elderly woman bending over me. "No, good Father, I am not poor Jeannette, God rest her soul, but her mother, Isabelle Romée."
I closed my eyes again and I felt my hot tears stream down my cheeks. But Isabelle was there to daub them away. Thoughts of Jeanne flooded my mind. I remembered her great compassion, especially for children, the elderly and the ill. I recalled how Jeanne was a wonderful nurse and would tend the wounded and ill whenever she could. She would speak softly to them while holding their hands. My memory wandered to the countless times I saw her go down on her knees beside a wounded soldier. How tenderly she lifted his head into her arms as she tried to console and comfort him the best she could.
When I regained more of my strength, Isabelle told me that her husband had died. I could not believe it. The last time I had seen Jacques in Reims, he was so strong and vital. Tearfully she explained that when news of their daughter's tragic and cruel death was given to them, he reacted very badly. As he ranted in anger, he suddenly fell to the floor. When he awakened, he could no longer speak or move the right side of his body. He became very sullen and hardly ate a thing. After about two years he finally died from what she called a "broken heart."
As the days and weeks passed, I slowly regained my strength to the point where I could sit up for extended periods of time. One night as Isabelle, Peter and I were sitting quietly in front of the fireplace watching the dancing flames Isabelle told us this story.
"I remember when Jeannette was a little girl, around three or four, she pulled her little stool over to the window. She climbed upon it to look out the window where she saw snow coming down. Everyone in the house was busy with his or her chores. I was busy with my sewing, but I did tried to keep an eye on her every few minutes. Somehow Jeannette managed to get out through the door and went outside as the sun was going down. Seconds later, I noticed that she was gone and at first I was in a state of panic. Jeannette's father was already outside watching her from a distance of about 10 feet. I rushed outside, but he stopped me and motioned for me to be quiet and watch our young daughter.
"We watched as she held out her small hands in an attempt to catch the floating snowflakes. She spun herself round and round laughing as she looked into the sky. Around and around she spun, with a huge smile on her face and with each turn her laughter grew louder and louder.
"Jacques stood behind me as his strong loving arms tightly enfolded me. We both were smiling from ear to ear as we watched our beloved daughter playing. Finally she fell to the ground dizzy from all her spinning. Still with a smile on her face she opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue to allow the snowflakes to land there, while her hands reached for the snow and the Heavens. How blessed we felt as we looked with great love upon our little Jeannette."
What a wonderful memory of a happy Jeanne! Somehow, this thought made Isabelle's home appear more loving and joyous and not as empty as it did just moments before she spoke.
"This next story, Father, occurred when Jeannette was either seven or eight years old. Jacques asked her to go and check on the animals of the field.
"Her Father was angry with her because he believed Jeannette wasted her time day-dreaming and that is why it took her forever to accomplish her assigned tasks. This of course was not the case. Yes, it is true that Jeannette did take more time to do her chores than the other children of the village, but it was because she wanted to do them perfectly that she took so long.
"One day when Jeannette was walking towards the fields, she heard the sound of young birds chirping in the branches of that nearby tree. She stopped and shading her eyes, she searched the tree until she saw the nest. She wanted to look at the newly hatched fledglings, but thought she had better first do what her father had commanded. She postponed what she wanted to do, and instead she ran to the hill behind our home to check on the field animals and then went home to report to her Father.
"Poor Jeannette, she tried so to please her father but was never able to do so. For when she got home she was welcomed with a sharp word of rebuke for having taken too long.
"She did not forgot the little hatchlings that she wanted to see. Jeannette spent half the night working out a plan that would allow her to accomplish her heart's desire.
"She decided to get up early to perform all her chores. Then during the time that she would have free, she would go and see the little birds.
"When she arrived at the base of the tree, she saw just how far up the nest was, but Jeannette was determined to see the 'baby birds', as she called them.
"She made the difficult climb, telling me later that she almost fell. She moved closer and closer as she stepped from one branch to the next higher one. As Jeannette climbed, she didn't think about the danger but only her goal of seeing the birds.
"When she finally reached them, she thought how sweet and wonderful they were and she was amazed at how cute and innocent they looked. Then she heard her father's command to come down from her lofty perch.
"Before she left, she told the little birds, 'Do not worry, I'll return and bring you something to eat!'
"Her getting down was far more difficult than her climb up. I watched, worried that at any moment she would fall to her death!
"When she got to the ground, she saw her Father and me coming towards her. I was still shaking in terror and her father was livid, because we both were terribly frightened for her safety. When we reached her, we saw to our dismay that her hands, arms and knees were covered in scratches and her skirt was torn in places and was spotted with her blood.
"Jeannette's father angrily asked her, 'What are you doing up in that tree?' She replied that she was just playing. She did not tell him about the birds, because she wanted to protect them from everyone, even her Father.
"That night, she told me all about it and I asked, 'Jeannette, were you not afraid that you would fall?' She replied, 'How could I fall? Was it not Jesus who showed me the nest?'
"She did not realize how dangerous her climbing the tree was. All she saw was the wonderful bird nest and the tiny baby birds. She thought only about what she wanted for the birds, to protect them.
"I asked Jeannette, please, not to climb the tree any more and which she promised. Every day, she returned to the tree longing to climb it once more to see how her birds were doing but out of obedience to me she never did.
"One day she saw some birds around the base of the tree and in her heart she knew that they were the same ones that were in the nest. She believed they had come to visit in order to say 'goodbye and thank you.'
Jeannette wanted to protect the little birds, and now that they could fly, she knew they were happy. Though faith, she knew her task was now complete. She also knew that her desire to love and protect these small creatures had pleased Christ.
"She never acknowledged how high the tree was, nor how dangerous it was to climb. She did not mind her cuts or her bruises. What she did see was the bird's nest with the tiny little feathered creatures in it. And through this experience her heart was opened to the true meaning of her life to serve and protect the week. She saw her true self and through that truth she saw Christ.
"This story is the truth. I see now that this event was a perfect example of my poor daughter's selflessness and care for all of God's creation. It expresses, to me at least, who she was in life and who she is now and forever."
Peter then spoke of his fond memories.
"There was a lot of playfulness going on between Jeannette and John and me in those early years. Jeannette was about 15 years old when we pulled this prank on her. She was sitting quietly on a downed tree limb when we hatched our plot. We got a large bucket and filled it to the brim with some water for the nearby stream. I urged John to sneak up behind Jeannette. She must have been deep in thought, because she did not hear him coming, even though he was lugging the heavy bucket of water. I was but a few feet behind motioning for him to empty the bucket upon our hapless sister. So with a broad devilish smile, John proceeded to dump the water over her. Jeannette jumped up in a flash. John was laughing very hard, but Jeannette was really mad, as she yelled, 'Just wait till I tell momma and poppa; just wait!'
"Even though she wore her long red dress, she took after him like lightning. I roared with laughter at the funny sight. Jeannette was really chasing him while he was just laughing and could not seem to stop. He ran fast towards home but he could not out-run her. She was hitting him on his back and head. She was yelling at the top of her lungs while John covered his head in attempt to shield himself from her blows. All the while he continued to laugh. Jeannette pelted him with her open hand as she said, ' Just you wait!' It was very funny for me to watch. I don't think I laughed any harder than I did that day!"
Soon word spread through the village that I had been Jeanne's chaplain. From then on my days were fully occupied receiving visits from these good people. They were eager to share their memories of Jeanne and were just as eager to hear mine.
I was told Jeanne loved to pick flowers and was frequently seen doing so. I informed them that even when she was with the army, she would pick flowers because she like their scent to freshen her room or tent.
I heard that Jeanne loved animals far more than anyone else in the village did. Her playmates would make fun of her for this, yet she never reacted in anger but would always pray for them.
As a child, whenever she received a gift, she would take it to church to show it to Jesus.
Her brother Jean was the bane of her existence during her childhood. I know that he had not changed while he was in her army. Even so she loved him dearly. How she could do this, I will never know.
It was very easy for Jeanne to love people. She loved everyone more than herself, but she loved Christ above all others.
Even at a very young age, people said that she was a joy to be around. Those who met her often described Jeanne as being full of joy.
She was courteous in her speech. When greeting a person for the first time, she would do so with a broad smile while asking the person if he was well. It was her custom to end her conversation with, "It is good to see you."
She would rather turn attention away from herself and focus on others, by asking them to tell her about themselves.
Jeanne loved the sky, she loved the rain and she loved the seasons. She loved flowers and beautiful trees. She loved the fields and loved to see the animals grazing. She loved the hills and loved to play in the woods. She seldom wore shoes and she loved to soak her feet in the river or the stream that flowed next to her home.
Jeanne loved her church of Saint Remi.
She was always quick to get things done, saying, "Better today than tomorrow."
She did not like the cold. She was sensitive to pain and always asked Jesus to help her deal with it as she did with all her problems. Jeanne tried her best to hide her pain from others.
Jeanne was shy by nature, but her strong faith gave her the ability to appear outgoing.
She loved to be alone with Jesus.
After spending about two months with the D'Arc's I informed them that I had to make my way back to my Order's motherhouse in Tours. They were sorry to see me go but they understood why. It was with many tears and fond embraces before I could bring myself to leave them. I gave each of them a special blessing by laying my hands upon their heads as I called down God's love, peace and joy upon them.
Not knowing whether I would ever see these two dear people again, I turned, teary eyed, and began my long, sad and lonely walk back home.
I made my way first to Orleans. When I arrived, those who remembered me gave me a warm welcome. The Boucher family insisted that I stay with them for as long as I wanted.
After a day of rest from my journey, they held a gathering in my honor, inviting Bishop Jean, the town's burgers and knights. That was a happy time, talking about Jeanne and the wonders that she had preformed. The wine flowed and with it so did our memories of this astonishing girl.
The gallant knight, Sir Jean de Gamaches, recalled his memories of Jeanne. "She was not beautiful, in the human seductive sensual sense, but she was very beautiful in a captivating way. Her entire being radiated with the glow of God's Perfection, a flawless blend of faith and joy. She was as strong and athletic as most men and yet was as feminine as any woman.
"Her voice was gentle, much softer than average, yet its extraordinary quality allowed her to make commanding speeches. I remember how she would preach to everyone and used the joy of heaven to reach people's hearts. Jeanne was hardly ever negative. It was easy to love her because she tried to uplift those with whom she spoke. If anyone ask in good faith, she would forgive him. It amazed me then as still does now, how Jeanne could not hate anyone, not even the English! She did have a bad temper. Insult her and it made her cry, insult Christ and her temper could not be believed. No matter what a person would do to her she loved and forgave him the best she could.
"It was rare to see, but when Jeanne was really angry with one or more of her knights, for their foul language and crude behavior, it would shame them so much that they had to confess their sin at once. I know this was most certainly true for me!"
"In jest, Jeanne's soldiers enjoyed provoking her just so that she would hit them. They said it was like being blessed by an angel. The harder she hit them the more they enjoyed 'the touch.' Jeanne did not know it at first, but when she found out, she would say, "Don't be silly you idiot!' She joked with her soldiers far more than you would expect. Jeanne's soldiers flirted with her but it never went beyond that. They would never admit to flirting but I saw them do it.
The burgers had their own memories of 'Our Maid.' When people met Jeanne, they knew without a doubt that she had been sent by God. The people would say that it was like meeting God's angel. She so amazed people that no one could ever forget her. Everything about her excited them and if they got to touch her they were thrilled and would talk about it for years!
They would try to give her gifts but she would reply, "What I seek are the riches of Heaven!"
Sometimes her generous nature would make them angry because she gave their gifts of fine expensive clothes to the poor. The only possession that she would not part with was the small simple ring that her mother had given her.
Meeting her brought either enormous joy or a sudden sense of self-doubt. She had this amazing spiritual power that emanated from deep within her soul. When a man looked into her eyes, he saw reflected there the state of his own soul. Terrifying and revolting for those who refused to change, these men would grow to hate her. Those of good will saw the love of Jesus reflected there which lifted their spirits to praise God.
We laughed when we remembered how swiftly she moved. "At a speed of joy," Charlotte remarked. "That is how she moved." And every one at the table nodded in agreement.
"She had a quick and nimble mind and her memory was far above average," another added.
I reminded the gathering that Jeanne really had a difficult time, with people coming to her and asking for her help. It was as if she were under siege from the town's people. I told them that it was far more difficult for her to handle than they knew because she cared so deeply about all their problems.
Our Scottish friend, Sir David Melvill spoke up. "Back in thirty-one, I was fighting alongside La Hire in Normandy. We were camped in the field near the town of Louviers some eighteen miles south of Rouen when we heard the news. Terrible… terrible! All of us took it hard but none more than La Hire. Fine you know what a stern, hardened war-horse he is, him that can chew on steel and spit out nails! And yet, at the news of our Pucelle's death his face grew ashen and I saw his massive frame sway as if struck by a cannon ball. He quickly withdrew into the nearby wood and I followed him at a discreet distance.
"If I had not seen his reaction with my own eyes, never would I have believed it possible. The stalwart La Hire fell to his knees. He covered his face with his huge hands and cried like a lost bairn. I could not fault him one bit, for the heart was torn out of me also."
All fell silent; each one was drawn into his own sadness at the thought of Jeanne's dreadful end.
Sir David did his best to raise our spirits. "I am sorry. It is the time for happy memories of our 'petit Pucelle'! Allow me to tell you this story.
"After the battle for Fort Saint Augustin, I saw that Jeanne had a bad wound in her foot. I begged her to be a wee bit more mindful of her own safety in future. She answered me in that firm yet friendly way she had. 'If I worry about protecting myself, will I not leave my people unprotected? I do not fear death, for if I fall in battle, it will be His Will. God has commanded me to fight for my people and by His Grace, I shall fight!' What a glorious soul she was!"
The rest of us hit the table top with our hands, mugs or knife handles as we responded to his words with a rousing cheer of "Hear, hear!"
He continued, "Jeanne was kind to the soldiers that others called cowards. She would say to the fearful ones, 'Let my courage be yours, for it comes from Jesus!' Such reassurance always came with a smile, and she’d say. 'True faith in Jesus is the well-spring of true courage!'"
Joan offered them encouragement, not harsh words. This angered those in command, but soon they saw the results of her kindness. Those, whom they once called 'incurable cowards,' become the bravest in the Army.
"When Jeanne was ordered by the King to end her campaign, we begged her not to leave. She always told us to go forward in faith. 'We believe in you!' we insisted. But she said, ‘No, you must not place your confidence in me for I will not always be with you. You must have faith in Jesus! He is the only one Who can and will lead you to your ultimate victory.’ The truth of her words is proven true, for they motivate us still and kept us on the road to victory until the last English dog is driven from our land!"
The walls of the Boucher home shook with our resounding cheers!
After our euphoria had died down, Sir Melvill commented, "I think Jeanne embraced her role of commander of the Army with great ease. The others, who considered themselves in charge, were without confidence in their own abilities but they did have total confidence in our Maid.
"It may be that in some future time people will say she was not in command, but from what I saw, Jeanne was always in total control of the army. It was not long after the Captains first met her that they stopped telling her what to do and began to listen to her advice. Even those who officially outranked Jeanne respected her so much that they willingly gave up their authority to her. The Captains might speak boldly, but in private they would ask, ‘What should we do?’"
She would listen very carefully to the advice of men like Mortain and La Hire, but the final decision remained with her. Thus she was the true leader of the Army, and I would strenuously fight any man who would say differently!"
His mood quickly lightened as he reminisced about her love of horses. "How she loved being on horseback! Jeanne could handle her steed better than many a man, and the horses had a special trust for her. Remember the speed she could gallop in streets and fields? How I treasure those memories!" He let out a hearty laugh. "And all too often it was myself she outran!"
He added, "There are those who said that she was just a wee thing, but this was not the case. They got a wrong idea of the height of her because she always had the biggest bears of men stand with her at the head of the troops. It was but a tactic she used to intimidate the enemy. She thought it better to scare them into surrender than to injure or kill them. Aye, Jeanne excelled in all military strategy, though her enemy refused to believe it."
Charlotte begged me, "Good Father, please tell us of your memories of Jeanne." The others at once agreed with her request and pressed me to speak.
"Jeanne's prayers were solely focused upon the will of God. She worshiped God first, then she prayed for the people and only at the end of her lengthy prayers did she ask for those things that would enable her to complete God's purpose for her life.
"I often heard her whisper, 'What, dear Jesus, is Your command? What must I do to bring Glory to Your Holy Name?'
"I can tell you with absolute assurance that most worldly possessions had no meaning for her. What Jeanne did cherish were things that were given to her with unselfish love. Her suit of armor, she believed, came from the Dauphin's deep sense of trust in her ability to do God's Will. Her treasured ring came from her mother's heart. The people who gave her horses, she believed, did so out of love." I turned to Charlotte, "And the embroidery you made for Jeanne, she loved it dearly."
At once a look of joy came over her face even as a flood of tears ran down her rosy cheeks.
"Her voices taught her how to pray. They taught her that she was to ask God for those things that would strengthen her ability to do His Will. She would tell Jesus that she would do her best and that she would never give up. With God's divine help she promised she would never allow herself to become weak. 'I will fight! I will do Your Will! I will never surrender!'
"With each victory she ran to the nearest church to give thanks to the Heavenly Father for His kindness in answering her prayers and the prayers of her people. As her military victories diminished, she asked God for the strength to overcome her grief. Never did she blame anyone for her failures. She only asked for forgiveness because she believed that it was her own personal faults that caused the loss.
"What I am about to tell you is all true because Jeanne herself related this story to me.
"As you know, when Jeanne won her victory here, the Dauphine Charles was very happy and would have given her just about anything. During one of these gatherings at his castle at Loches there were many important prelates and powerful nobles in attendance.
"During this meeting a voice, something she had never heard before, came to Jeanne telling her that she should ask for the King's protection in all future events. Over and over this strange voice insisted that she ask for his protection. No one heard the voice, only Jeanne.
"If Jeanne had asked, Charles would have sworn an oath, on the honor of France and his throne, to protect her from all harm. And just as Herod was forced to honor Herodias' daughter's request for the head of Saint John the Baptist, I think our King would have been obligated to come to her aid. His Royal Word, given in front of these Churchmen and all the important nobles of France, would have forced him to take action to secure Jeanne's release. But we will never know this for sure.
"Jeanne was tempted to accept the glories that were being offered as well as to ask Charles for his protection. But these thoughts only embarrassed her. So much so that she wanted to go back to her room. She tried to leave but was told by Lord la Tremoille that she could not because it was against courtly etiquette. So she became very quiet. One person noticed this and asked her if she was not well. Jeanne replied that she was just very tired.
"Later on, when she was able to return to her room, she commanded this tempting voice to leave her, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am here by the command of God and in Jesus' Holy Name I command you leave me, leave me now, go, go!' I can tell you that she was very unnerved by this evil attack.
"So Jeanne was tempted and come under attack at one of her most vulnerable times, yet praise be to God, she did not sin in this matter."
I become embarrassed with all this attention, so I turned my attention to the Most Reverend Bishop Saint-Michel, who was sitting across the table from me. "Your Eminence; you have been quiet all night; will you not tell us your thoughts?
The kindly Bishop rubbed his chin as he thought for a moment. "Yes, my son, I can. Now, my children, listen and consider carefully what I am about to tell you."
A profound stillness fell over the room as all present turned to listen. "Jeanne's battle standard and pennon had great religious significance not only for her but also for our entire nation.
"Just as the Ark of the Covenant was a token of God's choosing the Israelites to be His people, the Ark was also a visible sign of His invisible presence among them. As you know, God Himself gave the directions on how the Ark was to be made. All this is true also for Jeanne's battle standard and pennon. They had great religious significance not only for her but for all of us.
"To Jeanne they were very holy not just because they were blessed by the Church but because of the deeper meaning that she saw in them. 'Victory through Christ,' she said, for this was how she felt about her standard and pennon.
"To me, there is no difference between Jeanne's standard and pennon and the Ark of the Covenant. Both were brought into existence by God's command, and both held the same power and meaning. Just as the Ark was the material symbol of Israelites covenant with God so too were her standard and pennon material symbols of Jeanne's covenant with Him.
"My people, there are even more similarities between Jeanne and the Israelites. Consider this example. Gideon was the son of a lowly Israelite. Even so, God sent His angel to him. The angel said to him, 'The Lord is with thee, O most valiant of men. Go, in this thy strength, and thou shalt deliver Israel out of the hands of the Midianites.'
"Gideon asked how he could deliver Israel, seeing that his family was the lowest in the tribe of Manasses, and that he himself was the least in his father's house. The angel assured him that God would be with him and that the Midianites should be removed from the land.
"The Holy Spirit came upon Gideon and he sounded the trumpet calling the Israelites together to form an army of thirty-two thousand men. Through the direction of The Lord this number was reduce to a mere three hundred! The Lord God worked a great miracle with these few men by destroying the entire Midianite army of one hundred and thirty-five thousand!
"Remember how small our forces were in comparison to the English troops that surrounded our fair city? I hope you appreciate the connection of God's working through Gideon and how He worked His miracle for us through Joan."
The room shook with our resounding cries. "Yes we do! God be praised," we shouted as we hit the tabletop with our hands and mugs!
Raising his hands, Bishop John continued. "Do you realize just how incredible our times are? God has not worked with such might since the times of Judas Maccabeus. Maccabeus means 'Hammer' in the Hebrew language. This ancient Jewish warrior had invincible courage, great valour and fierceness in battle that caused God's enemies to tremble in fear.
"Judas had a vision of the Prophet Jeremiah who gave him a golden sword saying, 'Take this holy sword, a gift from God. For with it you shall overcome the foes of my people Israel.'
"A huge army of more than one hundred thousand men came against Maccabeus and his small company of eight hundred men but he was not afraid. He humbled himself before God in prayer and ordered his followers to do the same. With great trust in God's might, they took up their swords and spears and went out to face the foe. In the midst of battle five horsemen in shining armor were seen riding in the sky shielding the Jews from harm. These angels cast down fiery darts upon God's enemies, which filled them with great terror and they all fled in confusion from the battle.
"The Jews of old carried on their war for liberation with fearless courage and endurance. Their heroism came from their unshakeable confidence in God. They battled not only for God but also with Him! Almighty God gave the victory to these faithful Jews, because they fought with their hands and prayed with their hearts! Do you not see the amazing connection between this hero of the Old Testament and our Maid?
"And finally, my dear children, if you would allow me one last comparison. King David and Jeanne also share many virtues in common. David remained humble in spite of the worldly praise he received. He took no glory in being chosen by God to be king of Israel. He did not hold a grudge against the unjust Saul. Instead of rising up against him David remained Saul's faithful servant, forgiving the evil king from his heart. He even spared the king's life when the opportunity for revenge was given to him. David showed his noble heart by not returning evil for evil, but really loved his mortal enemy even going so far as to mourn Saul's end. Thus he gave us a magnificent example of love for our enemies as he avoided taking vengeance on them. In all these virtues and more our beloved Jeanne excelled. God be praised now and forever!"
I must say that we all appreciated and marveled at the Bishop's great wisdom.
When our bountiful meal was done, the Master sculptor of Orleans, Jean-Pierre came forward. In his hands was a stone bust. "My friends, I would like to show you my new work. I have been meaning to create this statue of Jeanne but for some strange reason I could never bring myself to start it before this."
He then gently placed the heavy bust on the table and began to unveil it. "As you know, I am not a man of many words. I do not have the wit to express myself except through my hands. And so I would like to present to you my tribute to our Maid." He then removed the cloth to reveal an image that took our collective breaths way. It was the face and head of Jeanne! I began to cry as I looked upon Jean-Pierre's masterpiece. I was not alone in my response to this simple and yet stunning likeness. I know not how long we stood with our eyes fixed on the sight. Finally one by one we came forward to congratulate Master Jean-Pierre for his compelling portrayal and to have a closer look at the face that meant so very much for each one of us. It was as if she were there with us. I can't explain it any other way.
What a most enjoyable evening we had reminiscing about our Maid!
My lord, Count Mortain, seeing that I was her personal chaplain I can shed light on her spiritual life and can do so without breaking the seal of Confession.
I think she was a chosen soul, chosen by God. She was His from her earliest years. Yet she had to cooperate with His graces. It was through her daily prayers and sacrifices that she grew in God's grace. This is the same grace that enables any of us to open our hearts to Him.
Jeanne described her heavenly experiences as best she could. "The more you can deny your flesh, the more you surrender to God's Will. Then God fills your heart and inflames your soul." She told me that there was nothing in this world that she desired more than heaven. This physical body had no value to her in comparison to the spiritual life to come. She would willingly give up everything to be able to experience her heavenly visions continuously. Her experiences were so overwhelming that she couldn't stop singing the praises of Our Dear Lord.
She told me, "No matter what I am doing, whether it is talking to others or leading a charge, I am always thinking about Jesus. I want very much to go to heaven so that I can be with my God, His Blessed Mother and my beloved Saints. This longing that I have inside me is so great that it's painful."
The worst weakness that I saw in her, if you want to call it that, was this, she always wanted to see the good in others, often at the expense of truth. She often believed their lies because it was her nature to trust others. Her pity and love for others often overshadowed her ability to protect herself from the lies and deception of mankind.
Jeanne took no credit for what was done at Orleans and the surrounding area nor did she take credit for the King's coronation at Reims; she gave it all to God. She was very much aware of her own unworthiness. "My Voices showed me my littleness before God's Greatness and Majesty and I can accomplish nothing without His help and grace! Everything that is happening to me is His gift, not just for me alone, but also to share with others by helping and loving them. I am not called to nurse the sick or take care of the dying. The gift that God has given me is to be able to lead the army and defeat our enemies thus saving the Kingdom. We are all given our own abilities that are to be used in the service of others." Jeanne taught me this beautiful reality. The more we surrender and abandon ourselves to the Will of God, that much more will His love and light reach out to touch us. Saint John the Baptist once said, 'I must decrease that You, O Lord, may increase.' Jeanne lived this each and every day of her life.
As a Catholic Jeanne made Confession, the Mass, the reception of Holy Communion and her fervent daily prayer the cornerstones of her spiritual life. I found her zeal to go to daily confession extraordinary. At first this behavior struck me as being very strange so I questioned her about it. In her tremendously humble way she answered me, "Dear Father Pasquerel, one cannot cleanse one's conscience too much!" Her eagerness to attend daily Mass was also remarkable. But what influenced me the most was her great desire to receive Our Dear Lord in Holy Communion. This she did as often as I would allow.
We must not lose sight of the fact that above all else she was the servant of the Lord. She had dedicated herself to the great task of freeing us from English oppression. In order for her to do this perfectly, she wanted to purify herself through the sacrament of confession.
Look how the people of Orleans received her as if she were an angel of God. They adored her, kissing her hands and feet, the hem of her garments and the like. Every day I saw her trying to keep the people from doing this, discouraging them at every turn. She explained, "My Saints have taught me to share my gifts, my talents and my life with others, in order that they might grow in their love of God. But most importantly, they have given me a deeper sense of love for all God's children."
Think how she had to contend almost daily with the skepticism and delays of the captains or with the grasping ways of the Dauphin's advisors. How could she completely repress feelings of indignation and impatience at those who put obstacles in the way of God's will?
Or look how she loved the company of brilliant people or the wearing of fine clothes or even the love she had for riding excellent horses. It was very difficult for her to escape altogether from experiencing the very natural and human imperfections of pride and self-satisfaction. For anyone other than Jeanne it would have been impossible to remain humble and not let all the praise go to her head. I knew she feared that she was giving too much thought to these things and not enough attention to God. We would not consider these distractions to be sins or even small faults. At best we would consider them to be mere blemishes, passing imaginations or hardly conscious thoughts. She caused me to search my inner life to see where I had fallen short and to try, with God's help, to correct my faults with that same fervor.
From what I had observed of her during her private prayers or in the quiet of the evening when she thought she was alone, I believe our Maid was a very sensitive person, more so than the world will ever know. Her feelings were easily hurt although most people were not aware of it because she hid this from them. This is one of the main reasons why she would go off to be by herself in order to be consoled by Jesus.
The way I see it is this: Jeanne was bold in battle and around her captains and men because she was commanded to do so by God. Yet, when the doors were closed and she was by herself, her tears flowed much more freely than one would realize.
I have heard some wicked people say that Jeanne was a "snob" because she kept to herself. Of course this negative sentiment was not true because she had great pity for the people of France. Her preference to be alone with God was the source of her charity. The Maid considered it her God-given duty to help them. Her love of God generated such pity for those in need that she placed their needs above her own. Jeanne would always pray for others and sometimes so many people had asked her to pray for them, that she would be in prayer for hours. She never turn down a prayer request, even at the expense of her own sleep and rest. She was so filled of love and faith that no one really has the ability to understand her completely.
I saw her cry when she received Holy Communion and this truly touched my soul. Of all the religious devotions that Jeanne had, I believe she loved the Mass most of all because it is the supreme act of worship that we can render unto God, the un-bloody sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, the God-Man. I would watch her facial expression and I truly believe that the greatest happiness Jeanne ever experienced in her life was found in her reception of Holy Communion. During those times when she was united in a mystical and yet a very real and physical way with Our Lord and Savior, she would experienced her greatest joy. When God was inside her, I would see her face glow. Afterward she would spend a long time in intense prayer of adoration, supplication and thanksgiving. When I had given her Holy Communion, she no longer saw me. I became invisible to her.
With Jesus upon her tongue her countenance changed. She looked past me, past the altar, past all that surrounded her! Her eyes widened, her lips parted. The only thing I can compare it to, her expression I mean, was the look of an expectant lover who saw her beloved drawing close after a long absence. Of course this description is only a pale reflection, but it is the best I can do.
Her love for God filled all her being to the point that it radiated out from her in a joyous love for her neighbor. I truly believe, and I wish I could openly declare it, but I believe she was, no IS, a saint!
A person who is a saint thinks of God, lives for God and has no purpose or wish in life except to do the will of God. All of Jeanne's actions were ordered to this one end, to the exclusion of all else! For the love of Jesus she cheerfully accepted hard work, discomfort, pain and the contempt of her enemies! To preserve her chaste life she would did penance and mortified her flesh by fasting the entire day. Every thing she did, whether practicing the virtues of faith, hope, and love or giving generous alms to the poor, it was all done for the love of God.
Jeanne lived for God as the Gospels instruct us to do: to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. For Jeanne, God was more real and more significant than her parents, her home, the life she lived or even the victories she had achieved. To do His Will was her only aim and rule of life.
What is more significant than her being a warrior in the natural sense was the fact that she was a warrior in the spiritual sense. I would go so far as to call her a prayer warrior, and this was the main reason why the siege of Orleans was lifted so swiftly.
How many times, Count, did we see her eat nothing during the whole day? Then just before she went to bed she would eat only a morsel of bread and a small cup of water reddened with a little wine. Under those conditions it seemed extraordinary to me that she was able to display such energy, such perseverance. How could she have led the fight all day unless there was a supernatural power behind this feat of endurance? I believe that I know the source of that power! It came from the Eucharist!
I have heard that Catherine of Sienna lived for years on nothing but Holy Communion. I believe we have witnessed in Jeanne's life another type of Eucharistic miracle. God gave Jeanne the wondrous ability to draw incredible physical strength from her reception of the Eucharist! Jeanne was such an extraordinary person that in all of history there has been no one like her. Truly, her like will never come again!"
She was a great prophet of God. She commanded the wind to change and raised the dead. As the prophets of old were persecuted and murdered, so too Jeanne. When Charles could not bend her to his will, he abandoned her to her dreadful end. When the Duke of Burgundy could not bring her to accept him and denounce Charles, he wanted her dead. When the University of Paris could not bring her to accept their authority above that of the Pope of Rome, they wanted her dead. Most of all the English wanted her dead and so they used the University to accomplish their dastardly deed and had her killed.
Jeanne's greatness is found in her humble and patient obedience to God's Will. She listened, she believed and she obeyed. She always followed God's command whether in triumph or tragedy and it was this unswerving trust in His merciful love that gives the greatest glory to God. I know for certain that our Maid reigns in heaven with Christ as
God's holy warrior!