For the Love of St. Joan of Arc: A Novena (Day 4)

Ever wonder how an illiterate peasant girl was able to successfully command the French army? A girl who never had left her hometown, knew nothing of politics, military history or geography? One gift St. Joan had was a “seeing eye,” which meant she could discern the souls of others.

Take, for example, her bold decision to recruit the knight Étienne de Vignolles, a crude, profane military leader, to work with her during the Hundred Years’ War campaigns of 1429. ( His nickname was La Hire, which means “The Ire” in Old French. The knave’s face on the Jack of Heart is modeled after his.) Her comrades were appalled by this decision.  But St. Joan had the foresight to understand what an asset he would be to her troops. Indeed, he came to believe her mission was prophetic.

As recounted in Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, at Saint Joan’s first meeting with La Hire, she told him that, as commander of the army camp, he was to restore order and discipline. “Loose women must pack out of the place at once..the rough carousing must stop, drinking must be brought within proper and defined limits, and discipline must take the place of disorder.”

Her final instruction to him was the most difficult: all soldiers must go to confession and then attend Mass daily. “The soldier sighed and said he would advertise the Mass, but said he doubted there was a man in the camp that was any more likely to go to it than he was himself.”

And then St. Joan pulled all her punches: La Hire himself would go to Mass.

“Well, he really went. It was hardly believable but there he was, striding along, holding himself grimly to his duty, and looking as pious as he could but growling and cursing like a fiend.” The two spent three days together in that camp, with Joan praying and pleading with him. At the end of those three days, La Hire prayed.

Here is how Noel Rainguesson, a character in Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc describes Saint Joan’s gift of bringing others to Christ.

“The common eye only sees the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and soul, finding there capacities which the outsider didn’t indicate or promise, and which the other kind of eye couldn’t detect.” Do we have the faith to see beyond outward appearances? Do we believe the human heart can change?

Glorious St. Joan of Arc, filled with compassion for those who invoke you, with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles, I kneel at your feet and humbly beg you to take my present need under your special protection…(mention here).

Vouchsafe to recommend it to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all, obtain for me the grace to one day meet God face to face and with you and Mary and all the angels and saints praise Him through all eternity.

O most powerful Saint Joan, do not let me lose my soul, but obtain for me the grace of winning my way to heaven, forever and ever. Amen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Étienne, my comrade-at-arms! Pleased to meet you soldier.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    Crude and profane? Frank, we hardly know ye….Seriously, it amazes me this teen-aged girl was gifted with such an ability to understand human psychology and spirituality.