The Beatification of Joan of Arc by Pius X "Joan of
Arc shall be France's Saint.
IN 1841 the Historical Society of France resolved upon the publication of the Trials of the condemnation and rehabilitation of Joan of Arc, which M. Jules Quicherat had transcribed from the original manuscripts preserved in the National Library in Paris. The publication was completed in 1849, in five volumes. Thenceforward writers had authentic documents upon which to rely.
In 1869, Mgr. Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, with two Cardinals and ten Bishops signed a suplica to Pius IX, praying for the introduction of the Cause of Beatification.
The war of 1870 interrupted the proceedings. In 1874 the inquiry was resumed; and, after thirty-six sittings, the result of the labors of the Diocesan Tribunal was presented to the Sacred Congregation of Rites in February, 1876, by Mgr. Dupanloup. Mgr. Coullie, the successor of Mgr. Dupanloup in the see of Orleans, instituted a second inquiry in 1885, and a third one in 1887. On January 27,
1894, Leo XIII signed the "Introduction of the Cause", by which the cause of Joan of Arc was summoned before the Tribunal of the Pope, and she was thus accorded the title of "Venerable."
The Holy See then commissioned the Bishop of Orleans to hold three inquiries: (1) "demon-cults"; (2) on the heroic virtues alleged to have been practiced by Joan of Arc; and (3) on miracles alleged to have been worked 'through her intercession.
The inquiry on the heroic virtues began in 1896; 122 sittings were held, and twenty witnesses were examined. The inquiry was closed on November 22, 1897; and, in a folio volume of about 2,000 pages, the proceedings were presented to the Sacred Congregation of Rites by the Bishop of Orleans. Thenceforward the Cause was immediately before the Holy See.
An important question was raised at the very beginning of the Cause in 1894, namely, what documents should be admitted as being evidence in the Cause; and it was determined that the Trials of Condemnation and of Rehabilitation being records of sworn testimony on oath were admissible.
The next point was whether the volumes of Quicherat were a faithful transcription of the
original manuscripts. These documents had already been carefully collated by enthusiastic and competent students; and, upon sworn declaration 'that Quicherat's transcription corresponded with the original manuscripts, his published volumes of the two trials were admitted as evidence in the Cause.
This declaration, however, did not go so far as to determine the value of every statement contained in those Trials; it only declared that the printed volumes corresponded with the manuscripts. Hence the value as evidence of the various portions of the Trials was left as debatable in each case.
This is a matter of great importance, and it must be carefully borne in mind in relation to the Wee chief objections which have been made against the sanctity of Joan of Arc.
The Maid is recorded in the trial of condemnation to have objected to the minutes of the Trial as they were written down at the time by the clerks of the Court.
"You write down," she said, " what is against me, but you do not write down what is in my favor."
If the Evidence given in the Trial of Rehabilitation may be thought by some persons to be at times over favorable, there is no doubt that the Trial of Condemnation is to be
read with caution as being recorded with a bias against the prisoner.
Secondly, the inquiry held on June 7, eight days after the death of the Maid, is of altogether questionable veracity, and the clerks of the Court refused to append their signatures to it—an act which they would not have dared to have done on previous occasions.
It is after giving their relative value to the various statements as to Joan of Arc's attempted escape from prison, her alleged recantation and her pretended denial of her Voices that we are able to come to the unhesitating conclusion that the accusation that her endeavor to escape was an attempt to commit suicide is false, that she did not make a recantation on the scaffold at St. Ouen, and that she never did otherwise than assert that her Voices were from God.
Seven alleged miracles were presented to the Holy See. Four were from the diocese of Orleans, one from that of Nancy, one from the diocese of Evruex, and one from the diocese of Arras. Four were set aside for various reasons. Three were admitted.
THE FIRST MIRACLE.
Sister Teresa of Saint Augustine, a Benedictine Nun of Orleans, was attacked in
December, 1897, by acute pains in the stomach. These increased continually, accompanied by frequent sickness, till in May, 1900, she had vomitings of blood so exhausting that she appeared to be almost dead.
From that time forward she never left her bed. The vomitings became of daily and almost of constant recurrence. She was in the dilemma of choking if she took any food, or of dying of starvation if she did not.
The doctor expected her speedy death. Under these conditions a novena to Joan of Arc was begun on July 30, 1900. The vomitings of blood continued almost incessantly. On August 6 they were more frequent than ever. In the night of the 6th to the 7th, there was a crisis of weakness and of syncope. On the 7th the vomitings were renewed.
On the evening of August 7, at the height of the crisis, Sister Teresa asks for her habit, saying that she will get up the next day, as she will be cured. The Sisters in attendance say to one another, "Get her habit, it will do for her burial."
Meanwhile Sister Teresa fell asleep till two O'clock in the morning. At the sound of the bell for Matins she wanted to rise. She was told to remain quiet till half-past five, and she obeyed.
At half-past five, on the morning of August 8, she dressed herself, went down to the chapel, and prayed with her arms extended in the form of a cross, received Holy Communion, dined with the community on the ordinary fare, and suffered no inconvenience whatever. Since that time the perfect and instantaneous cure has been fully substantiated by subsequent experience.
THE SECOND MIRACLE.
Sister Julie Gauthier, of Favrolles in the diocese of Evruex, had suffered for fifteen years from a cancerous ulcer in the left breast. One day as she was speaking to her class of children about Joan of Arc, the idea occurred to her of making a novena to the Maid, for she had laid aside all hope of cure by natural means.
But her sufferings were so great that she feared she would be unable to make a novena of nine days' prayer in succession.
She bethought herself then of a plan by which the novena might be promptly concluded. She would take eight of the children of her class, she herself would make the ninth, and they would go together and say the prayers for her recovery at one single visit to the church.
To gather children around her, and to go with them to pray or to receive the Holy Sacraments, was one of the delights of Joan of Arc. She would do likewise.
They went; and then and there Sister Julie, who with difficulty had been able to go so far as 'the church, returned from it in full vigor. The wound was closed, and Sister Julie was perfectly and permanently cured.
THE THIRD MIRACLE.
Marie Sagnier, of Fruges in the diocese of Arras, a nun of the congregation of the Holy Family, had suffered for three months from ulcers and abscesses in both legs. The disease was diagnosed as being one of tuberculous affection of the flesh and bones.
She made a novena to Joan of Arc. On the morning of the fifth day the bandages had become loose, the inflammation had disappeared, the ulcers and the wounds had healed, the bones had become firm, and Marie Sagnier had regained her former vigor, which has been maintained ever since.
On May 8, 1869, was signed the first petition to the Holy See for the "Introduction of the Cause of Beatification."
On January 27, 1894, Leo XIII. signed the decree authorizing the "Introduction of the Cause."
On January 27, 1894, Leo XIII signed the decree declaring the heroically of the virtues practiced by Joan of Arc.
On December 13, 1908, the decree concerning the miracles was promulgated in the presence of the Holy Father; and on January 24, 1909, Pius X declared that the solemn Beatification of Joan of Arc might be proceeded with.
On April 18, 1909, in the presence of fifty thousand people, thirty thousand of whom were French men and women, who had journeyed to Rome on purpose, Pius X proclaimed, with all the splendid solemnity with which the Church vests herself on such occasion, that Joan of Arc be hereafter called BLESSED, and exhorted the faithful to seek her intercession, who, as she lives in the hearts of the French people, continues also to repeat in heaven the prayer "Great God of nations, Save France!"
As this volume goes to press word comes from Rome that the cause of the canonization of Blessed Joan of Arc is to be reopened by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, who have under consideration two recent miracles attributed to the Blessed Joan’s intercession.
It seems certain that she will be proclaimed shortly, Saint Joan of Arc. Meanwhile the Congregation has approved an Office and Mass for her Feast, on Sunday after Ascension, as a "double major" for all France, and for Orleans, Reims, and Rouen as a ‘double of the second class," because of her special connection with these cities. Also it is hoped that she will be as "Virgin and Martyr" her final title to sanctity will be established. "St. Joan of Arc Virgin and Martyr." God speed the day. It will be a great one for France.