Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

The Maid of France
Being The Story Of The Life And Death of Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc)
CHAPTER 26

MARTYRDOM

JEANNE was granted, by the tender mercies of Cauchon, her last desire, she was allowed to receive the sacrament. Ladvenu heard her confession, and sent Massieu to the bishop to ask that the penitent might receive the Body of her Lord. Cauchon gathered some of his advisers, and gave permission ; the fact would be another proof that Jeanne had submitted. The sacrament was brought irreverently, without light and stole, on the paten of the chalice, wrapped in the linen cloth about the chalice itself. Then, Ladvenu remonstrating, lights were brought, and praying clerks, and after a second confession, Jeanne received very devoutly, and with many tears.

Then she was clad in woman's attire, and was led by Massieu and Ladvenu to the stake. Already she had received a visit from Maurice, to whom she said, " Master Pierre, where shall I be this evening?"

He answered, "Have you not good faith in the Lord?"

"I have, and by God's grace I shall be in Paradise." Even so the Voices had told her that it was to be, she was to come straight from earth to the place of blessed souls.

As she was being taken to the burning she made such pious lament that her two companions could not forbear, but wept ; and all who heard her shed tears. It is a strange story that Loiselleur was pricked in his conscience; and climbed into the cart where Jeanne was, desiring to ask her forgiveness. The English were wroth, and would have slain him, but for Warwick who pro- tected him; for he wept bitterly as he passed along the street.

He certainly did not leave Rouen to save his life, or not for long.

Jeanne was taken to the Old Market, beside the Church of St. Saviour. There were three scaffolds ; on one the Maid was exhibited, and preached at, as she had been preached at before ; on another the lay and clerical magnates, as before, were assembled ; on the third was an elevated mass of plaster, above it were the faggots and the stake. A placard was exhibited here, with the words, " Jeanne, self-styled the Maid, liar, mischief- maker, abuser of the people, diviner, superstitious, blasphemer of God, presumptuous, false to the faith of Christ, boaster, idolator, cruel, dissolute, an invoker of devils, apostate, schismatic, heretic." There were sixteen terms of reproach, and every one of them was the blackest of lies. A kind of paper mitre, as was customary, was set on her head, with the inscription,

"HERETIC, RELAPSED, APOSTATE, IDOLATOR."

Midi preached the sermon, abusing a text of St. Paul.

She listened patiently, her warfare was over, and it is of record that her judges wept; they had no pity, but they had sentiment.

Cauchon read the sentence.

"Then she invoked the blessed Trinity, the glorious Virgin Mary, and all the blessed Saints of Paradise, naming some of them expressly," her own Saints, we may suppose. " She begged right humbly also the forgiveness of all sorts and conditions of men, both of her own party and of her enemies ; asking for their prayers, forgiving them the evil that they had done her." She prayed all of the priests present, and they must have abounded at a burning, to give her each one Mass. It was dinner-time. While Cardinal Beaufort and some of the English nobles are said to have wept, others shouted that she must be handed over to them, to burn : "Priests, do you want to make us dine here?" they cried.

Without any formal secular sentence, the Bailiff of Rouen waved his hand, saying, "Away with her." She was led to the central scaffold. She climbed it as bravely as she had climbed the scaling-ladders at Orleans and Jargeau. She asked for a cross to gaze upon in her agonies. An English- man made a little cross of two pieces of a staff, and gave it to her. Devoutly she received it and kissed it, crying aloud on the Crucified : then she placed it in her bosom. She next prayed Massieu to bring the cross from the church, that she might look on it through the smoke. She long embraced it, and held it while she was being chained to the stake. She was heard saying, "Ah Rouen, I fear greatly that thou may'st have to suffer for my death !"

"To the end she maintained that her Voices were from God, and all that she had done was by God's command ; nor did she believe that her Voices had deceived her." She invoked St. Catherine; while being bound to the stake she had especially invoked St. Catherine ; and St. Michael, the first of the Holy Ones who came to her in her father's garden. The doubt of an hour was ended, she and her Saints were reconciled. She may have seen them through the vapour of fire.

Last, with a great voice she called "JESUS!" Her head drooped, and the Daughter of God went home to her Father's House. Her heart, corcordium, was unconsumed.

That the world might have no relic of her of whom the world was not worthy, the English threw her ashes into the Seine.

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