This is from the (unpublished) novel, The Lost Chronicles, The Story Of Joan of Arc, by Virginia Frohlick, edited by Carlyn Voss Iuzzolino. Copyrighted 1997. All rights reserved.



As a member of the Joan of Arc Center in Orleans, France, I had an opportunity to speak with a staff member concerning Joan's relics. According to this person there are very few definite relics of Joan left to us.

Joan's heart and intestines did not burn despite the two attempts made by the executioner to consume them by the intense flames that he created. The Cardinal of Winchester then ordered him to gather up all of Joan's ashes and remains and cast them into the Seine river, which the executioner did. Because of this there are no first class relics of Joan.

I asked about the approximately three inch long charred human bone and the remnants of a wooden torch that I had seen displayed in the Chinon castle museum. I was told that when these objects originally were found in Paris sometime during the Second Empire (1852-1870), they were in a phial that was found among a collection of old medicines. When they were found this phial and the parchment that was attached to it were dated to the seventeenth century. The parchment had a barely readable inscription that said, 'Remains found beneath the scaffold site of Jeanne d' Arc, Maid of Orleans.' When the contents of the phial were examined in the 1860's, it was found to contain three bone fragments, two of which turned out to be animal and the other human. It also contained a fragment of fifteenth century linen cloth and two pieces of wood that came from a torch. Later the animal bones were discarded.

This charred human bone fragment can't be definitely identified as Joan's because other people were burned at the old market square of Rouen. This is unfortunate because it could have been kept in a reliquary within the Cathedral of Orleans where it would be honored with reverence instead of being kept in a glass phial in a museum. As it is, the Church is quite content to leave the fragment in the custody of the museum because since the Church doesn't know, for sure, that it is from Saint Joan, it doesn't want to display it as a relic.

On one of the nine surviving letters dictated by Joan, she had placed one strand of her own hair in the wax seal. This letter went to the citizens of Riom. Deplorably the hair has disappeared sometime during the second half of the nineteenth century. Perhaps it is now in some private collection but what ever happened to it, it is lost to the general public.

Items that were owned and used by a saint are considered second class relics. During the French Revolution, a time when Anti-God, Anti-Church and Anti-clerical forces ruled the country, several truly authentic relics of Joan were destroyed. Among them was the gray hat that Joan gave to Charlotte Boucher. This hat had been kept by her descendants for some two hundred years until the early 1600's when it was given to the Oratorian Order of Priests. It remained in the Order's Mother house in Orleans until the revolutionaries took the hat and threw it into a bonfire in 1792.

The descendants of Joan's brother, Pierre, had in their possession three of her letters and a sword that she had worn. The letters were saved but Joan's sword was lost during the chaos of the revolutionary period. Finally, during the height of the French Revolution Joan's standard was burnt. The staff person explained that it really was not the original standard that was burnt. She explained that during the three hundred plus years that the town held the standard, the standard's cloth was continually being repaired and pieces of it were replaced due to the damage done by moths. Even so, it just shows what hate had infected these people's hearts for them to want to destroy the relics of their own heroine.

The ring that was given to Joan by her mother and father was taken from her at the time of her capture. It was handed over to Bishop Pierre Cauchon who in turn gave it to Cardinal Beaufort, the Bishop of Winchester, England. The Beaufort family claimed that they had handed this very ring down within the family for generations. The ring in question is described as having the initials IHS and MAR with only one cross. However, its authenticity is highly doubted because it does not match Joan's description of her ring which she gave during her trial, ie., 'It had three crosses on it with the names of Jesus and Mary.' The ring is now in the hands of a private collector.

After World War II a helmet that might have belonged to Joan was obtained by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The helmet hung over the high altar of the church of Saint Pierre du Martroi in the City of Orleans and it is believed that it was a votive offering given by Joan for the healing of the wound that she received at the Tourelles. The museum now displays this helmet as part of its armor collection. But again their is no way of definitely proving that the helmet in question was worn by Joan.

The staff person told me that the historians have no idea what happened to the sword of Saint Catherine. The Museum of Dijon have a sword which may have belonged to Joan but its authenticity is questionable. The blade seems to have been made in the 1490's but the hilt is small enough to fit a woman's hand. Therefore the hilt may be authentic but the blade definitely wasn't.

A third class relic is something touched by the saint. There are many such relics scattered throughout France. Included in this group are the nine letters that Joan dictated. They were addressed to the English at Orleans, the Duke of Burgundy, the Count d' Armagnac, the Hussites, to the citizens of Riom and Troyes and three to the citizens of Reims. Three of these letters bear her signature. Her first signature is found on the letter to the citizens of Riom. The other two letters that bear her signature are on the letters to the citizens of Reims.

The Church of Saint Remy in Domremy have three such relics, the holy water fountain, and the Baptismal fountain as well as the statue of Saint Margaret. In the Basilica of Saint Joan of Arc at the Bois Chenu, there is the Statue of Our Lady of Bermont before which Joan prayed every Saturday.

At Vaucouleurs, in the crypt church of De Baudricourt's castle, there is a statue called 'Our Lady of the Vaults.' Joan often prayed before this statue while she waited for Sir Robert to give her permission to leave for Chinon. In the town's museum there is an ancient crucifix called 'The Christ of Septfonds,' which came from the Church of Saint Nicolas-de-Septfonds. Joan prayed before this crucifix. Here also near the Gate of France stands an ancient and enormous lime tree, to which tradition says Joan tied her horse while making last minute preparations for her departure.

In the shrine chapel of Saint Catherine-de-Fierbois, there is the statue of Saint Catherine, in front of which Joan prayed. In the town of Saint-Pierre-le-Moutier's church there is an ancient stone statue of Saint Michael which Joan knelt and prayed before. In the town of Lagny, where the child was restored to life, there is a statue of the Blessed mother called 'Our Lady of Good Help.' It was before this image that the dead child was laid and Joan and the town's girls prayed. In Compiègne's Church of Saint Jacques, just prior to her capture, Joan heard Mass and received Holy Communion after which she knelt and prayed before a stone statue of the Madonna and Child. The city of Poitiers has the stepping stone used by Joan to mount her horse when she was leaving this city.

The United States is fortunate to have a possible third class relic of Saint Joan. The relic, not part of the original small gothic chapel of St. Martin de Sayssuel, was incorporated into it when this 13th or 14th century chapel was reconstructed on the campus of Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The story surrounding the famous Joan of Arc stone tells how Joan prayed before a statue of Our Lady standing on this stone and at the end of her petition she kissed it. From that time on the stone has remained colder than the stones surrounding it. What seems certain is that the nich, of which it is a part, is of the same period as Joan of Arc.

I asked where Joan's father, mother and brothers were buried. I was told that their burial sites were unknown.

Now let us consider the case of Saint Joan's 'White Armor.' This is truly a treasure hunt worthy of 'Indiana Jones!' There are two possible locations for her armor. They are: Luxembourg or Burgundy, France.

Some historians believe Joan left her white armor in the Abbey church of Saint Denis, after her failed attempt to take Paris. Once King Charles and his entourage left the town of Saint Denis, it was retaken by the English. The English entered the church and stole Joan's armor and took it back with them to England. Regine Pernoud disagrees with this theory. She believes Joan did not leave her armor, but gave instead, as a votive offering, the armor of a captured Burgundian knight. This armor is now in the Musee de L' Armee at the Invalides, Paris.

It is more likely that Joan retained her white armor and was wearing it at the time of her capture and it has been passed down in some family of Burgundy or Luxemburg. Perhaps if that family did know what they had, they would not say anything about it because the French government would insist that they give this national treasure back to them. There is another strong possibility that her armor still remains unknown and undiscovered in some storeroom of a castle in Luxembourg or Burgundy. If that is true, then her armor can be distinguished by the following characteristics: There would be a dent in the helmet that occurred when Joan was hit on the head by the stone at Jargeau. There would be a patch in the breastplate from the arrow that pierced her at Orleans. Also the breastplate would have a rounded feminine contour. Finally one of the thigh plates would be severely damaged, maybe even cracked, by the impact of the crossbow bolt that hit her when she was before Paris.

Recently an antique dealer in Paris by the name of Pierre de Souzy stated that he had Saint Joan's armor. He said that he obtained it from a family that had it in their possession for many hundreds of years. He gave several reasons why he felt it was genuine. 'First, it was made for a person that was five feet tall. Joan was around five feet tall. Second, there is a fifteenth century picture depicting Joan in this type of armor. Third, there are 'chinks and dents in the armor that correspond to her war wounds. Fourth, a metallurgist dated the armor to the fifteenth century.'

This man does not know what he is talking about! I will explain why in fact this armor could never be Joan's. I saw a picture of this antique dealer standing next to Joan's alleged armor in a local news paper, the "Albuquerque Journal," and will use this picture to dispute his statements.

My first impression of the armor was that it was made for a child because it was so small. The armor in the picture may be five feet tall but look at the shoulder width, the circumference and length of the arms and the legs. They are all very small. It is true that Joan was somewhere between five feet to five feet four inches tall but it is also true that she was know to be quite stocky and muscular in her body build. Second, Joan wore 'white armor.' The armor shown is gothic. The term 'white armor' refers to the fact that it was plain armor without any decoration whatsoever. Look how ornately this armor was made with decorative rivets, fluting and a rope design along the edges. Third look at the helmet which covers the face. Joan did not use a visor on her helmet as she wanted everyone to be able to see her face. Her helmet was more like our modern day army helmet than the one shown in this picture. Fourth, the fact that Joan was depicted in this type of gothic armor does not mean anything because some twenty years after her death, when the artist drew the picture, gothic armor was in fashion. Joan has been depicted in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as wearing the dress of each period. Does that mean she actually wore all these different fashions? Of course not. Each artist showed her in the fashion of his day.

I then computer enhanced the newspaper's picture and obtained even more information that backs my claim that this is NOT Joan's armor. Under computer enhancement it is seen that from the mid-line to the sides of the breast plate that the armor falls back sharply which would give little or no room for her breasts. Joan's armor would have been rounded outward to accommodate her breasts.

One final repudiation. Mr. Souzy states that his armor has 'chinks and dents corresponding to her war wounds." Let us look at this more closely. The word 'chink' means, a crack or fissure, narrow opening. Joan's armor would have more than some dents and narrow cracks in the armor plate because she was injured by powerful, armor piercing projectiles. These projectiles would have punched through the armor plate causing a large inward flaring hole. To repair the holes in the breast and thigh plate the armorer would have to pound out and patch the damage. In my enhanced version of the newspaper's picture I see no discernible dents nor any evidence that either the breast plate or the thigh plates were ever repaired.

UP ARROW Index LEFT ARROW Previous Question RIGHT ARROW Next Question
This web page is being maintained by The Saint Joan of Arc Center