Celebrating My Girl, St. Joan of Arc
"In His strength I will dare, and dare, and dare, until I die." - St. Joan of Arc
I was 15 years old sitting in my high school freshman East-West Heritage class, trying to figure out who I was going to choose for my confirmation saint. They told us in Sunday school to start thinking about it, but I had no idea who I was going to choose.
For those non-Catholics among you, Catholics are generally baptized as babies, and then confirmed when they reach "the age of reason," a.k.a. somewhere in the high school range...although I'm unsure how reasonable my peers or I were at 15, but that's another conversation entirely.
Regardless, when Catholics are confirmed, they choose a patron saint. And my turn was coming up.
Now, listen. I was the kind of weirdo who at the age of 10 printed out Bible verses on pictures of, like, majestic flying eagles and taped them up on the walls in my bedroom, and who, at 12, was taking legitimate notes with my friend Ashley during Sunday school. And I'm pretty sure I still have those folders full of notes somewhere. I was a bonafide freak. So, I feel that I can safely assume I was taking this question a bit more seriously than most of my peers.
That's when my teacher showed us a movie about St. Joan of Arc. And my world was rocked.
In the first couple pages of Mark Twain's book on St. Joan of Arc (which, by the way, is incredible and life changing and will blow your face off), there is a quote from Louis Kossuth, a Hungarian lawyer, journalist, politician and Governor-President of the Kingdom of Hungary during the revolution of 1848–49, which sums up one of many reasons why:
"Consider this unique and imposing distinction. Since the writing of human history began, Joan of Arc is the only person, of either sex, who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a nation at the age of seventeen."
At an age barely older than I was when I first started getting to know her, she was leading the armies of France. Alone.
All because God told her that she should, and she trusted him.
Since high school, I've spent a lot of time reading about St. Joan of Arc, and, let me assure you, she only gets more magnificent the more you learn. As a young girl, learning about the bravery and strength of another girl just like me who lived and died 500 years ago, changed everything.
She saved her people, yet they handed her over to be questioned, tortured and burned, simply because they could not accept that she was both a woman and chosen by God to do what she did.
I think any woman living today who has tried to do great things, or even just hopes to do them, would feel a strange connection to this French girl who lived so long ago. We like to think we have progressed so much since then, but in some ways - in many ways - we are still refighting the same old battles.
But the most inspiring thing about her is that she stayed faithful to the end. Even when people of rank and power told her that she was wrong, or crazy or evil, she knew God's voice, and she knew who she was. And she was willing to give her life for it.
Today, May 30th, we celebrate the feast day of the beautiful patron saint of France, and the patron saint of myself and so many others who have been inspired by her life. How ridiculously perfect that her feast day should fall during the week of both Memorial Day and of the Wonder Woman movie release, which you better believe I will explore in upcoming blog posts.
The strength of women continues to be a hot topic of conversation 500 years after St. Joan of Arc was burned for her boldness, but we must continue to be strong, because as Venerable Fulton Sheen said:
“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”
So, let's save the world. Happy Feast Day of St. Joan of Arc: a soldier, a saint and a woman.