IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Pope recalled that when he entered the seminary, Europe was going through "a dark age. It was a time of war. One after the other, Hitler had subjugated Poland, Denmark, Benelux, and France. In April of 1941 ... he had occupied Yugoslavia and Greece. It seemed that the continent was in the hands of this power that, at the same time, put the future of Christianity in doubt. We had been admitted to the Congregation but shortly thereafter the war against Russia began. The seminary was dissolved and, before it was able to reassemble, the congregation was scattered to the four winds".
That is why, the pontiff continued, his entry in the "Mariä Verkündigung" was not "an 'exterior fact', but it stayed with me as 'an interior fact' because it had always been clear that Catholicism could not exist without a Marian character, that being Catholic meant belonging to Mary".
"Here, through the bishops' ad limina visits", the Holy Father commented, "I constantly sense how people - especially those in Latin America but in other continents as well - can entrust themselves to the Mother; how they can love the Mother and, through the Mother, can then learn to love Christ. I sense how the Mother continues to give birth to Christ; how Mary continues to say 'yes' and to bring Christ to the world".
"Mary is the great believer. She has taken up Abraham's mission of belief and made Abraham's faith into concrete faith in Jesus Christ, thus showing us all the way of faith, the courage to entrust ourselves to the God who puts Himself in our hands, the joy of being His witnesses. Then she shows us the determination to remain fast when all others have fled, the courage to remain at the Lord's side when he seems lost and thus to bear the witness that led to His Passion".
"I am thus very grateful", the Pope concluded, "to know that in Bavaria there are approximately 40,000 congregants; that still today there are men who, together with Mary, love the Lord. Men who, through Mary, are learning to know and to love the Lord and who, like her, bear witness to the Lord in difficult times as well as happy ones; who remain with Him under the Cross and who continue to live the Passion joyfully together with Him. Thank you all for continuing to hold this witness high, so that we might know that there are Catholic Bavarian men and members of the congregation who continue along the path initiated by the Jesuits in the XVI century and who continue to demonstrate that faith doesn't belong to the past but always opens itself to 'today' and especially to 'tomorrow'".
BENEDICT XVI RECALLS HUNGARIAN COMPOSER LISZT
VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican, Benedict XVI attended a concert offered in his honor by the President of the Republic of Hungary, Pal Schmitt on the occasion of Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union and the bicentenary of the birth of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.
At the end of the concert the Holy Father thanked tenor Istvan Horvath, the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra and the State Choir, which performed several compositions by Liszt: Festmarsch zur Goethejubiläumsfeier, Vallee d'Overmann, and the Ave Maria: Die Glocken von Rom, inspired by a Psalm.
Benedict XVI pointed out that the three pieces "have aroused a wide range of feelings: from the joy and festive tone of the march, to the meditation of the second piece with its insistent and aching melody, to the attitude of prayerfulness we are invited to by the Ave Mary ".
Referring to the 13th Psalm, the Pope explained that this piece "has given us the idea of the quality and profundity of Liszt's faith. It is a Psalm in which the one praying encounters difficulty, the enemy surrounds him, besieges him, and God seems absent, seems to have forgotten him. His supplication becomes anguished in light of this abandonment: 'How long, O Lord?', the psalmist repeats four times".
"It is the cry of a man and of humanity", the Pope continued, "feeling the weight of evil in the world. Liszt's music has conveyed this feeling of weight and anguish but God does not abandon him. The Psalmist knows this as does Liszt; as a man of faith, he knows it. Out of anguish is born an invocation full of trust that overflows into joy, 'My heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me'. And here Liszt's music is transformed: tenor, choir, and orchestra raise a hymn of total entrustment to God who never betrays, never forgets, never leaves us alone".
DIALOGUE BETWEEN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND ANGLICAN COMMUNION
VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2011 (VIS) - The Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission has completed the first meeting of its new phase (ARCIC III) at the Monastery of Bose in northern Italy (17-27 May 2011).
According to a communique issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, "the commission is chaired by Archbishop David Moxon (Anglican Archbishop of the New Zealand Dioceses) and Archbishop Bernard Longley (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham), and comprises eighteen theologians from a wide range of backgrounds across the world".
"In response to the programme set forth by Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams in their 2006 Common Declaration, discussions have focussed on the interrelated issues: the Church as communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching. The programme also required the Commission to re-examine how the 'commitment to the common goal of the restoration of complete communion in faith and sacramental life' is to be understood and pursued today, and to present the work of ARCIC II in its entirety with appropriate commentaries to assist its reception".
"The commission", continued the communique, "will seek to develop a theological understanding of the human person, human society, and the new life of grace in Christ. This will provide a basis from which to explore how right ethical teaching is determined at universal and local levels. ARCIC will base this study firmly in scripture, tradition, and reason, and draw on the previous work of the commission. It will analyze some particular questions to elucidate how our two Communions approach moral decision making, and how areas of tension for Anglicans and Roman Catholics might be resolved by learning from the other".
"The commission will continue its work along the lines it has proposed in preparation for its next meeting in 2012".
VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2011 (VIS) - On Saturday, 28 May, the Holy Father appointed:
- Archbishop Diego Causero, currently apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic, as apostolic nuncio to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein.
- Msgr. Antonio Neri, an official of the Congregation for the Clergy, as under secretary of the same congregation.
- as members of the Congregation for Bishops: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and Bishop Emeritus Lorenzo Chiarinelli of Viterbo, Italy.
KNOWLEDGE OF GOSPEL PRODUCES TRUE JOY
VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Regina Coeli with the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope commented on the passage from the Acts of the Apostles from the sixth Sunday of Easter when Phillip, "one of the deacons, arrived in a city of Samaria. There he preached the Risen Christ and his proclamation was accompanied by numerous healings. The episode ends very significantly: 'There was great joy in that city'. This expression, which basically communicates a sense of hope, strikes us every time. It is as if it said: 'It is possible! It is possible for humanity to know true joy because, wherever the Gospel reaches, there life flourishes".
"Phillip and the other disciples, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, carried out in the villages of Palestine what Jesus had done: they preached the Good News and worked miraculous signs. It was the Lord who acted through them. As Jesus announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, the disciples announced the Risen Jesus, proclaiming that He is Christ, the Son of God, baptizing in his name and driving out every illness of body and spirit".
The Holy Father affirmed that "reading this passage, one thinks spontaneously of the Gospel's healing power, which throughout the centuries has 'watered' so many peoples like a beneficial river. Some great saints brought hope and peace to entire cities - think of Charles Borromeo in Milan during the time of plague; Mother Teresa of Calcutta; and those many missionaries, whose names are known to God, who have given their lives to bring the news of Christ and to make profound joy flourish among persons".
"While the powerful of this world sought to conquer new territories for political and economic interests", he continued, "Christ's messengers went everywhere with the purpose of bringing Christ to human beings and human beings to Christ, knowing that He alone can give true freedom and eternal life. The Church's vocation today is still evangelization: to the many the peoples who have not yet been 'watered' by the living waters of the Gospel as well as to those who, although having ancient Christian roots, are in need of new nourishment to bear new fruit and to rediscover the beauty and joy of the faith".
The Pope pointed out that "Blessed John Paul II was a great missionary, as an exhibit organized in Rome in these days documents. He re-launched the mission 'ad gentes' and, at the same time, promoted the new evangelization".
After praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope noted that "last Saturday in Cerreto Sannita, Italy, Sr. Maria Serafina of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (born Clotilde Micheli), was proclaimed Blessed. Born in Trentino, she founded in Campania the Institute of the Sisters of the Angels. On recalling the 100th anniversary of her birth in heaven, we rejoice with her spiritual daughters and all those devoted to her".
Addressing the Polish pilgrims, Benedict XVI noted that "yesterday was the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the 'Primate of the Millennium'. Invoking the gift of his beatification, let us learn from him a total abandonment to the Mother of God. Let his trust, expressed with the words: 'I have entrusted all to Mary', be a special model for us. Let us recall this at the end of the month of May, which is especially dedicated to the Virgin".
WORD OF GOD, CONSOLATION AND CHALLENGE FOR CHRISTIANS IN INDIA
VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2011 (VIS) - "The Second Vatican Council reminds us that, among the more important responsibilities of bishops, the proclamation of the Gospel is pre-eminent", said Benedict XVI today to the prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India at the end of their ad limina visit, emphasizing that it is "a source of satisfaction that the proclamation of God's word is bearing rich spiritual fruit in your local Churches, especially through the spread of small Christian communities in which the faithful come together for prayer, reflection on the Scriptures and fraternal support".
"Every effort should be made", he continued, "to stress that individual and group prayer is, by its very nature, born of and leads back to, the wellspring of grace found in the Church's sacraments and her entire liturgical life. Nor can it be forgotten that the word of God not only consoles but also challenges believers, as individuals and in community, to advance in justice, reconciliation and peace among themselves and in society as a whole. ... In fidelity to the new commandment to love one another as the Lord has loved us, Christians of all times and places have striven to serve their fellow human beings selflessly and to love them with all their heart. After all, love is God's gift to humanity; it is his promise and it is our hope".
"In this light, I am pleased to note the impressive signs of the Church's charity in many fields of social activity, a service borne in a particular way by her priests and religious. ... The Church's schools prepare young people of all faiths and none to build a more just and peaceful society. Church agencies have been instrumental in the promotion of microcredit, helping the poor to help themselves. In addition, they promote the Church's healing and charitable mission through clinics, orphanages, hospitals and innumerable other projects aimed at promoting human dignity and well-being ... May Christ's faithful in India", the Pope prayed, "continue to assist all those in need in the communities around them, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or social status, out of the conviction that all have been created in God's image and all are due equal respect".
In conclusion, the Holy Father spoke of "the grave challenges which threaten to undermine the unity, harmony and sanctity of the family", which the bishops had referred to him, and about "the work which must be done to build a culture of respect for marriage and family life. A sound catechesis which appeals especially to those preparing for marriage", he said, "will do much to nourish the faith of Christian families and will assist them in giving a vibrant, living witness to the Church's age-old wisdom regarding marriage, the family, and the responsible use of God's gift of sexuality.
ENTHUSIASM AND COURAGE GIVE START TO PROCLAIMING CHRIST
VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon the Holy Father received participants in the plenary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, instituted in October of 2010, along with its president, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella.
Referring to the theme of the next synod of bishops in October of 2012, the theme of which will be "The New Evangelization and the Transmission of the Christian Faith", the Pope said that "the term 'new evangelization' recalls the need of a new way of evangelizing, especially for those who live in a situation like today's where the development of secularization has left deep marks on even traditionally Christian countries".
"The crisis we are living through", he stated, "carries with it signs of the exclusion of God from people's lives, a general indifference to the Christian faith, and even the intention of marginalizing it from public life. ... Moreover, the phenomenon of people who wish to belong to the Church but who are strongly determined by a vision of life that is opposed to the faith is often seen".
Benedict XVI emphasized that "proclaiming Jesus Christ, the sole Savior of the world, is more complex today than in the past, but our task continues to be the same as at the beginning of our history. The mission hasn't changed, just as the enthusiasm and courage that motivated the apostles and first disciples should not change".
The Church's message, he continued, "needs to be renewed today in order to convince modern persons, who are often distracted and insensitive. That is why the new evangelization must find the ways to make the proclamation of salvation more effective, the salvation without with life is contradictory and lacking in what is essential. This includes those who remain tied to Christian roots but who have a difficult relationship with modernity. It is important to make them understand that being Christian is not a type of outfit that one wears in private or on special occasions, but something living and totalizing, capable of taking all that is good in modernity".
The Pope expressed the desire that in the plenary's work these days, the members and consultors outline "a plan to help the entire Church and the particular different Churches in the commitment of the new evangelization; a plan whereby the urgency of a renewed evangelization takes charge of formation, particularly that of the new generations, and is united to the proposal of concrete signs capable of making the Church's response in this particular moment clear".
"If, on the one hand, the entire community is called to revive the missionary spirit in order to offer the new message that persons of our times are hoping for, it cannot be forgotten", he finished, "that the lifestyle of believers needs real credibility, as much more convincing as the more dramatic is the condition of the persons to whom it is addressed".
CARDINAL MARX TO TAKE POSSESSION OF TITULAR CHURCH
VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced that on Sunday, 5 June, at 10:30am, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of München und Freising (Munich), Germany will take possession of the title of San Corbiniano at Via Carlo Orff, 12.
VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received Norbert Lammert, President of the "Bundestag", the German parliament, accompanied by an entourage.
On Saturday morning, 28 May, the Holy Father today received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches,
- Six prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their ad limina visit:
- Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril of Vijayapuram,
- Bishop Stephen Athipozhiyil of Alleppey,
- Bishop Vincent Samuel of Neyyattinkara,
- Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan of Punalur, and
- Bishop Stanley Roman with Bishop Emeritus Joseph Gabriel Fernandez of Quilon.
On Saturday afternoon the Holy Father met with:
- Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli O.F.M., apostolic vicar of Tripoli, and
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
LifeSiteNews.com REPORT - The historic 13th century cathedral of Paris, Notre-Dame de Paris, filled up completely last Thursday evening from 8:30 onward in answer to the call of Cardinal André Vingt-Trois to a Vigil for Life. It was the second initiative of its kind by Paris’ archbishop: a similar event took place last year on the 27th of May and attracted many faithful.
This year the vigil was placed under the patronage of Blessed John Paul the Second and was highlighted by readings from Evangelium vitae. Readings from the Gospel, personal experiences proclaimed by lay-people and modern hymns made up the first part of the vigil. This was followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during which the cardinal pleaded for life on his knees in front of the main altar, facing the monstrance. He prayed for those who had let themselves be driven into acts of death: “Do not remember our sins, but the faith of your Church.”
Cardinal Vingt-Trois reminded the faithful that when life is scorned, God is scorned also.
Among the lay-people who bore witness to life was Jean-Guilhem Xerri, president of the association “Aux captifs la liberation” (“For captives, freedom”) which works with homeless people living in the streets of the larger French cities.
A newly-wedded couple presented their experience of giving life together with their one year-old child, Pierre, startling the “audience” with their banal and lengthy accounts of personal conflict, dirty socks and reconciliation in order to proclaim the grandeur of God and to adapt to the new situation of being parents. The couple was chosen to speak although the young man only proposed marriage one year after they had been living together: in marriage, they said, they found a “new meaning” in their sacramental union, and a way to downplay conflict.
This choice of the couple was seen by some observers to be a pastoral choice of the Catholic Church in France which recently opened a “family blog” presenting all the “new” types of living together and parenting.
All eight bishops of the Parisian region, Ile-de-France, were present in the cathedral. Mgr Nicolas Brouwet, auxiliary bishop of Nanterre, who spoke out recently against the “Contraception Pass” which is being distributed to 10th-graders in Ile-de-France by the Regional council, opened the vigil with these words :
“Our society is anxious to protect human rights, but it is capable of great violence against the unborn, persons at the end of their life and the handicapped. The Gospel of life wants to change our lives, and our whole community.”
He pleaded the cause of love, fidelity, and chastity - a word rarely used in current homilies in France.
During the event there was little mention of abortion, euthanasia and other typical “culture of death” themes.
The fact that the cardinal of Paris is organizing these vigils is nevertheless regarded as a hopeful sign by the more active pro-lifers in the French Catholic Church, who have been dismissed for many years as extremists.
Sanaa (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Last night in Yemen, the army attacked thousands of people who have peacefully occupied Liberty Square (pictured) in the southern Taiz for four months, demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Meanwhile Syria has authorised military interventions against the population.
In Taiz the protesters say the army removed the barricades with a bulldozer, attacking with guns, tear gas and water cannons and setting some tents on fire, killing at least 20 demonstrators and wounding 150 others. The crowd responded by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. News agencies reported the statements of al-Sadek Shugaa, head of a field hospital, according to whom soldiers indiscriminately fired on the crowd.
Previously more than 3 thousand people protested before the Government Palace, also near Taiz’ Liberty Square, demanding the release of six protesters arrested May 26. According to Al Jazeera, some soldiers had joined the protesters.
Since January, people have been protesting against the government, supported by some influential tribal leaders, but President Saleh has made no concessions and refused to sign an agreement obtained through mediation by the Arab Gulf States, for the transition to democracy. The fear is that the prolonged conflict favours the penetration of Islamic terrorists. Army sources claim that four soldiers were killed today and dozens were injured near the city of Zinjibar, in an attack by militants from al-Qaeda. Apparently the city is under the control of more than 300 armed rebels, possibly al-Qaeda since May 27.
Tension is building in the country, last week there were violent clashes between the army and the Hashed tribal militias who support the opposition.
Meanwhile, yesterday morning the Syrian army surrounded and attacked the cities of Rastan and Talbisa with dozens of tanks and helicopters. In Talbisa there was a large demonstration against the government on May 27. The troops then began a house to house manhunt to arrest opponents of the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Protesters say the military first cut water, electricity and communications in the cities and report at least seven civilians dead (11 according to other sources), and over 100 wounded, while the military says it is carrying out an operation against " armed terrorist groups." But it is difficult to get objective news, after the authorities expelled foreign journalists. The two cities have been the scene of protests since March, at first with a demand for democratic reforms, and later demands for the resignation of Bashar, which have continued despite the crackdown by armed forces. There is also talk of more than 1000 deaths and 10 thousand arrests. The authorities say 143 soldiers have been killed by armed rebels.
In both countries the situation is beyond the control and the government trying to regain supremacy with progressive violence. But this is leading to an escalation of armed clashes, with the population and tribal groups who arm themselves with a growing risk of outbreaks a real civil war. Tomorrow at Antalya in Turkey 3-day conference of Syrian opposition groups will begin.
"In the face of undue attack on freedom of academic teaching sanctioned by the Constitution, on behalf of the police, members of the Union of University Professors (Chanco Academic Staff Union) had demanded an apology from the authorities," recalls the missionary. "The answer came from the same President, Bingu wa Mutharika, who also holds the highest position in the local university, who accused the professors of inciting violence."
One hundred days have passed since then and no lessons have restarted at the university campus. "Despite the strong repression of the demonstrations and serious threats at all levels, professors and students continued their protest for more than three months, even though they know they will pay a high price for this challenge. For them there will be no place in any state institution and the government hopes that the movement will break up by itself, " explains Fr. Gamba.
"Without salaries for professors and students targeted by the police, it was thought that the protest would gradually die down. The government repeatedly appealed to the judicial court to throw the demonstrators out from the university, but they did not succeed. Some students were even paid to denounce their professors to the judicial authority, "recalls the missionary. "Strangely, it did not go as the government hoped, because the support from various universities around the world increased."
Faced with the serious political, economic and social development of the country, Fr. Gamba says "the only hope is the 'wind of North Africa' heads towards the south as a liberation movement. The war by NATO in Libya unfortunately continues and does not help to make room for democracy and dialogue. Even the ancient democracies show the use of means and ways which best meet their interests, "concludes the missionary.
CATH NEWS REPORT: Bishop Julian Porteous has criticised as "provocative and offensive" billboards by a Muslim group that calls Jesus a prophet, said an AAP report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
"In Australia with its Christian heritage a billboard carrying the statement 'Jesus A prophet of Islam' is provocative and offensive to Christians.""He is the Son of God. He is acclaimed Lord and Saviour of humanity," Bishop Porteous, the auxiliary bishop of Sydney, said.
Bishop Porteous is calling for the billboards, erected late last week in Darlinghurst, Rozelle and Rosehill in Sydney by a group called MyPeace, to be removed.
"The campaign organisers profess the billboard advertisements are to inform but in effect they have provoked a response reflected in the vandalism we saw at the weekend," he said.
The group had said it wants to encourage Christians and Muslims to find common ground by raising awareness that Islam believed in Jesus Christ.
St. Joan of Arc
PATRON SAINT OF FRANCE
Feast: May 30
Savior of France and the national heroine of that country, Joan of Arc lives on in the imagination of the world as a symbol of that integrity of purpose that makes one die for what one believes. Jeanne la Pucelle, the Maid, is the shining example of what a brave spirit can accomplish in the world of men and events. The saint was born on the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1412, at Domremy, a village in the rich province of Champagne, on the Meuse River in northeast France. She came of sound peasant stock. Her father, Jacques d'Arc, was a good man, though rather morose; his wife was a gentle, affectionate mother to their five children. From her the two daughters of the family received careful training in all household duties. "In sewing and spinning," Joan declared towards the end of her short life, "I fear no woman." She whose destiny it was to save France was a well-brought-up country girl who, in common with most people of the time, never had an opportunity to learn to read or write. The little we know of her childhood is contained in the impressive and often touching testimony to her piety and dutiful conduct in the depositions presented during the process for her rehabilitation in I456, twenty-five years after her death. Priests and former playmates then recalled her love of prayer and faithful attendance at church, her frequent use of the Sacraments, kindness to sick people, and sympathy for poor wayfarers, to whom she sometimes gave up her own bed. "She was so good," the neighbors said, "that all the village loved her."
Joan's early life, however, must have been disturbed by the confusion of the period and the disasters befalling her beloved land. The Hundred Years War between England and France was still running its dismal course. Whole provinces were being lost to the English and the Burgundians, while the weak and irresolute government of France offered no real resistance. A frontier village like Domremy, bordering on Lorraine, was especially exposed to the invaders. On one occasion, at least, Joan fled with her parents to Neufchatel, eight miles distant, to escape a raid of Burgundians who sacked Domremy and set fire to the church, which was near Joan's home.
The child had been three years old when in 1415 King Henry V of England had started the latest chain of troubles by invading Normandy and claiming the crown of the insane king, Charles VI. France, already in the throes of civil war between the supporters of the Dukes of Burgundy and Orleans, had been in no condition to resist, and when the Duke of Burgundy was treacherously killed by the Dauphin's servants, most of his faction joined the British forces. King Henry and King Charles both died in 1422, but the war continued. The Duke of Bedford, as regent for the infant king of England, pushed the campaign vigorously, one town after another falling to him or to his Burgundian allies. Most of the country north of the Loire was in English hands. Charles VII, the Dauphin, as he was still called, considered his position hopeless, for the enemy even occupied the city of Rheims, where he should have been crowned. He spent his time away from the fighting lines in frivolous pastimes with his court.
Joan was in her fourteenth year when she heard the first of the unearthly voices, which, she felt sure, brought her messages from God. One day while she was at work in the garden, she heard a voice, accompanied by a blaze of light; after this, she vowed to remain a virgin and to lead a godly life. Afterwards, for a period of two years, the voices increased in number, and she was able to see her heavenly visitors, whom she identified as St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret, the three saints whose ages stood in the church at Domremy. Gradually they revealed to her the purpose of their visits: she, an ignorant peasant girl, was given the high mission of saving her country; she was to take Charles to Rheims to be crowned, and then drive out the English! We do not know just when Joan decided to obey the voices; she spoke little of them at home, fearing her stern father's disapproval. But by May, 1428, the voices had become insistent and explicit. Joan, now sixteen, must first go quickly to Robert de Baudricourt, who commanded the Dauphin's forces in the neighboring town of Vaucouleurs and say that she was appointed to lead the Dauphin to his crowning. An uncle accompanied Joan, but the errand proved fruitless; Baudricourt laughed and said that her father should give her a whipping. Thus rebuffed, Joan went back to Domremy, but the voices gave her no rest. When she protested that she was a poor girl who could neither ride nor fight, they answered, "It is God who commands it."
At last, she was impelled to return secretly to Baudricourt, whose skepticism was shaken, for news had reached him of just the sort of serious French defeat that Joan had predicted. The military position was now desperate, for Orleans, the last remaining French stronghold on the Loire, was invested by the English and seemed likely to fall. Baudricourt now agreed to send Joan to the Dauphin, and gave her an escort of three soldiers. It was her own idea to put on male attire, as a protection. On March 6, 1429, the party reached Chinon, where the Dauphin was staying, and two days later Joan was admitted to the royal presence. To test her, Charles had disguised himself as one of his courtiers, but she identified him without hesitation and, by a sign which only she and he understood, convinced him that her mission was authentic.
The ministers were less easy to convince. When Joan asked for soldiers to lead to the relief of Orleans, she was opposed by La Tremouille, one of Charles' favorites, and by others, who regarded the girl either as a crazy visionary or a scheming impostor. To settle the question, they sent her to Poitiers, to be questioned by a commission of theologians. After an exhaustive examination lasting for three weeks, the learned ecclesiastics pronounced Joan honest, good, and virtuous; they counseled Charles to make prudent use of her services. Thus vindicated, Joan returned full of courage of Chinon, and plans went forward to equip her with a small force, A banner was made, bearing at her request, the words, "Jesus Maria," along with a figure of God the Father, to whom two kneeling angels were presenting a fleur-de-lis, the royal emblem of France. On April 27 the army left Blois with Joan, now known to her troops as "La Pucelle," the Maid, clad in dazzling white armor Joan was a handsome, healthy, well-built girl, with a smiling face, and dark hair which had been cut short. She had now learned to ride well, but, naturally, she had no knowledge of military tactics. Yet her gallantry and valor kindled the soldiers and with them she broke through the English line and entered Orleans on April 29. Her presence in the city greatly heartened the French garrison. By May 8 the English fort outside Orleans had been captured and the siege raised. Conspicuous in her white armor, Joan had led the attack and had been slightly wounded in the shoulder by an arrow.
Her desire was to follow up these first successes with even more daring assaults, for the voices had told her that she would not live long, but La Tremouille and the archbishop of Rheims were in favor of negotiating. However, the Maid was allowed to join in a short campaign along the Loire with the Duc d'Alencon, one of her devoted supporters. It ended with a victory at Patay, in which the English forces under Sir John Falstolf suffered a crushing defeat. She now urged the immediate coronation of the Dauphin, since the road to Rheims had been practically cleared. The French leaders argued and dallied, and finally consented to follow her to Rheims. There, on July 17, 1429, Charles VII was duly crowned, Joan standing proudly behind him with her banner.
The mission entrusted to her by the heavenly voices was now only half fulfilled, for the English were still in France. Charles, weak and irresolute, did not follow up these auspicious happenings, and an attack on Paris failed, mainly for lack of his promised support and presence. During the action Joan was again wounded and had to be dragged to safety by the Duc d'Alencon. There followed winter's truce, which Joan spent for the most part in the company of the court, where she was regarded with ill-concealed suspicion. When hostilities were renewed in the spring, she hurried off to the relief of Compiegne, which was besieged by the Burgundians. Entering the city at sunrise on May 23, 1430, she led against the enemy later in the day. It failed, and through miscalculation on the part of the governor, the drawbridge over which her forces were retiring was lifted too soon, leaving her and a number of soldiers outside, at the mercy of the enemy. Joan was dragged from her horse and led to the quarters of John of Luxembourg, one of whose soldiers had been her captor. From then until the late autumn she remained the prisoner of the Duke of Burgundy, incarcerated in a high tower of the castle of the Luxembourgs. In a desperate attempt to escape, the girl leapt from the tower, landing on soft turf, stunned and bruised. It was thought a miracle that she had not been killed.
Never, during that period or afterwards, was any effort made to secure Joan's release by King Charles or his ministers. She had been a strange and disturbing ally, and they seemed content to leave her to her fate. But the English were to have her, and on November 21, the Burgundians accepted a large indemnity and gave her into English hands. They could not take her life for defeating them in war, but they could have her condemned as a sorceress and a heretic. Had she not been able to inspire the French with the Devil's own courage? In an age when belief in witchcraft and demons was general, the charge did not seem too preposterous. Already the English and Burgundian soldiers had been attributing their reverses to her spells.
In a cell in the castle of Rouen to which Joan was moved two days before Christmas, she was chained to a plank bed, and watched over night and day. On February 21, 1431, she appeared for the first time before a court of the Inquisition. It was presided over by Pierre Cauchon, bishop of Beauvais, a ruthless, ambitious man who apparently hoped through English influence to become archbishop of Rouen. The other judges were lawyers and theologians who had been carefully selected by Cauchon. In the course of six public and nine private sessions, covering a period of ten weeks, the prisoner was cross-examined as to her visions and voices, her assumption of male attire, her faith, and her willingness to submit to the Church. Alone and undefended, the nineteen-year-old girl bore herself fearlessly, her shrewd answers, honesty, piety, and accurate memory often proving embarrassing to these severe inquisitors. Through her ignorance of theological terms, on a few occasions she was betrayed into making damaging statements. At the end of the hearings, a set of articles was drawn up by the clerks and submitted to the judges, who thereupon pronounced her revelations the work of the Devil and Joan herself a heretic. The theological faculty of the University of Paris approved the court's verdict.
In final deliberations the tribunal voted to hand Joan over to the secular arm for burning if she still refused to confess she had been a witch and had lied about hearing voices. This she steadfastly refused to do, though physically exhausted and threatened with torture. Only when she was led out into the churchyard of St. Ouen before a great crowd, to hear the sentence committing her to the flames, did she kneel down and admit she had testified falsely. She was then taken back to prison. Under pressure from her jailers, she had some time earlier put off the male attire, which her accusers seemed to find particularly objectionable. Now, either by her own choice or as the result of a trick played upon her by those who wanted her death, she resumed it. When Bishop Cauchon, with some witnesses, visited her in her cell to question her further, she had recovered from her weakness, and once more she claimed that God had truly sent her and that the voices had come from Him. Cauchon was well pleased with this turn of events.
On Tuesday, May 29, 1431, the judges, after hearing Cauchon's report, condemned Joan as a relapsed heretic and delivered her to the English. The next morning at eight o'clock she was led out into the market place of Rouen to be burned at the stake. As the faggots were lighted, a Dominican friar, at her request, held up a cross before her eyes and, while the flames leapt higher and higher, she was heard to call on the name of Jesus. John Tressart, one of King Henry's secretaries, viewed the scene with horror and was probably joined in spirit by others when he exclaimed remorsefully, "We are lost! We have burned a saint!" Joan's ashes were cast into the Seine.
Twenty-five years later, when the English had been driven out, the Pope at Avignon ordered a rehearing of the case. By that time Joan was being hailed as the savior of France. Witnesses were heard and depositions made, and in consequence the trial was pronounced irregular. She was formally rehabilitated as a true and faithful daughter of the Church. From a short time after her death up to the French Revolution, a local festival in honor of the Maid was held at Orleans on May 8, commemorating the day the siege was raised. The festival was reestablished by Napoleon I. In 1920 the French Republic declared May 8 a day of national celebration. Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized by Benedict XV in 1919.
|John 15: 26 - 27|
|26||But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;|
|27||and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.|