July 7th: The Vindication of Joan of Arc

Remembering Joan of Arc’s second trial, July 7th, 1456:

“The process to right the wrongs done to Joan [called the Maiden] was begun on November 7, 1455. [Jone’s mother], Isabelle Romée, who was now somewhere between sixty and seventy years old, her two sons and a group of friends from Orleans, came to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Tearfully and filled with emotion, Isabelle approached the Pope’s representative judges and began to recite her request for justice for her daughter:

‘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 as much as I was able to do given her age and simplicity of her condition. I succeeded so well that she spent much of her time in church and after having gone to confession she received the sacrament of the Eucharist every month. Because the people 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… I demand that her name be restored.’

Joan’s mother, overcome with grief, had to be escorted to the sacristy of the cathedral and thus began Joan’s Trial of Nullification. The court took testimony in the cities of Paris, Rouen and Orleans as well as the towns of Domremy and Vaucouleurs. A total of one hundred and fifty witnesses came forward to tell the court of their memories of Joan. Finally on July 7, 1456, the court rendered its official decision.

[The verdict]: ‘In the case concerning the honest woman, widow Isabelle d’Arc, mother, Pierre and Jean d’Arc, brothers, against the late Lord Pierre Cauchon then Bishop of Beauvais, Jean Lemaitre, then Vice-Inquisitor and Jean d’Estivet, the promoter of the criminal proceedings against the late Jeanne d’Arc, of good memory, commonly called the Maid. (Isn’t it interesting that the only Churchmen mentioned were all dead.) In consideration of the information and juridical consultations…in consideration of the facts, in consideration of the defamatory articles… We, with Apostolic authority as the Papal representative judges and having God only before our eyes, say, pronounce, decree and declare that the said trial and sentence of condemnation were tainted with corruption, cozenage, calumny, fraud, malice, iniquity and manifest errors of fact as well as in law, including the abjuration, execution and all their consequences. We declare that Joan the Maid’s trial and condemnation have been and are null, invalid, worthless, without value or effect. We break them, annihilate them, annul them, and declare them void of effect. We declare that Joan did not incur any mark of infamy. We also declare her as far as necessary, entirely purged of such.’

In the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen!”

This decree was read in the great hall of the Archiepiscopal palace of Rouen, in the cemetery of Saint Ouen and finally in the Old Market Place where Joan was burnt to death.” (http://www.stjoan-center.com/novelapp/joaap01.html)

As I reflected on the historical events of July 7, 1456, the following Bible passages came to mind:

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Jesus to his disciples, Matthew 5:10-12)

“He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:8)

As we reflect on this important day in church history, we can be confident that patriarchy and every other oppressive ideology will be brought to an end by God. All who stand for the justice of God’s Kingdom will be vindicated.