THE papal commissioners now joined by Longueil, Bishop of Coutances, spent the month of June 1456, in Paris, making a final study of the whole dossier, including the Recollectio. On June 18, they answered a personal plea of Joan's brother, John, with the assurance that definitive action would soon be taken. Before the beginning of July they were again in Rouen, where, after a last declaration of contumacy against those who had been cited to dispute the process, they rendered their verdict at a solemn session on July 7. The Archbishop of Rheims, who presided, read the verdict. There were also present, beside the other commissioners, the promoter of the cause, the advocate and the procurator of the d'Arc family, John d'Arc, and, among numerous clerics, Brother Martin Ladvenu.
The verdict passes in review the successive steps in the rehabilitation: the appointment of the commissioners by the Pope, the plea of Joan's relatives against the Beauvais officials, the articles drawn up against the trial, the inspection of the records, the study of Cardinal d'Estouteville's investigation, the theological memoirs, and the testimony of the witnesses. It confirms the promoter's condemnation of the twelve articles of accusation as fraudulent, calumnious, and malicious; annuls them; and orders them ceremonially torn from the Rouen record. (The remainder of one copy of this record, which had been furnished to the commissioners by the notary Manchon, was presumably also destroyed.)
Reasons for condemning the rest of the trial are then given: the sentences, the quality of the judges, Joan's appeals, the fraud and intimidation by which the so-called abjuration was wrung from her, the judgment of the memorialists on the charges against her. The verdict ends by declaring "the said trials and sentences, tainted with fraud, calumny, injustice, contradiction, and manifest error of law and of fact," to be utterly null and void. Joan is stated to have contracted no stain of infamy therefrom.
The verdict was formally promulgated, in ceremonies accompanied by sermons, on the Place Saint-Ouen, adjacent to the spot where the Maid had "abjured," and on the square of the Old Market, where she had perished, and where a memorial cross was now erected. Similar celebrations took place at Orleans and elsewhere. To Brehal and Bouille was assigned the welcome task of journeying to Rome to inform Calixtus III that his mandate had been thoroughly executed.
When conditions permitted, and especially during the last and the present centuries, the most eloquent preachers of France, and sometimes of other countries (Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul was the preacher in 1899). welcomed the privilege of eulogizing Joan from the pulpit of Orleans Cathedral on the annual festival of May 8, commemorating the city's deliverance in 1429. In 1869, the cause of Joan's beatification was introduced, at the plea of the illustrious Bishop of Orleans, Felix Dupanloup. Troubled years ensued, for the Holy See as for France, and it was not until 1909 that Pius X declared the Maid "Blessed." Eleven years later, on May 16, 1920, the frail, clear voice of Benedict XV was raised amid the tense silence of a throng that filled the vast area of St. Peter's. "In honor of the Holy and Undivided Trinity," the Pope proclaimed, "for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the growth of the Christian religion, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by Our own, after mature de-liberation, after offering many prayers to God, after having conferred with Our Venerable Brethren, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and with the Patriarchs and Bishops present in Rome, We declare that the Blessed Joan of Arc is a Saint, and We inscribe her name in the list of Saints, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
ORA PRO GALLIA
ORA PRO ANGLIA
ORA PRO NOBIS