Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 40

HER EXECUTION

At daybreak, on the 30th of May, her confessor, Martin I'Advenu, was directed to enter her cell, and prepare her for her coming doom--to be burned alive that very day in the market-place of Eouen. At first hearing this barbarous sentence, the Maid's firmness forsook her for some moments; she burst into piteous cries, and tore her hair in agony, loudly appealing to God, "the great Judge," against the wrongs and cruelties done her. But ere long regaining her serene demeanour, she made her last confession to the . priest, and received the Holy Sacrament from his hands. At nine o'clock, having been ordered to array herself for the last time in female attire, she was placed in the hangman's car, with her confessor and some other persons, and was escorted to the place of execution by a party of English soldiers. As she passed, there happened another touching incident to this touching story ; the fore mentioned priest, the wrethed L'Oiseleur, who had falsely sought her confidence, and betrayed her confession, now moved by deep remorse, threw himself in her way to own his guilt and implore her forgiveness.* At the market-place (it is now adorned by a statue to her memory) she found the wood ready piled, and the Bishop of Beauvais with the Cardinal of Winchester and other prelates awaiting their victim. First a ser- mon was read, and then her sentence ; at this her tears flowed afresh, but she knelt down to pray with her confessor, and asked for a cross. There was none at hand, and one was sent for to a neighbouring church ; meanwhile an English soldier made another by breaking his t^S asunder, and this cross she devoutly clasped tWier breast. But the other soU diers were already murmuring at these long delays : " How now, priest," said they to L'Advenu; " do you mean to make us dine here ? " At length their fierce impatience was indulged; the ill-fated wo- man was bound to the stake, and upon her head was placed a mitre with the following words inscribed:--

"Heretique Relapse, Apostate, Idolatre."

The Bishop of Beauvais drew nigh just after the pile was kindled; "It is you," said she to him, " who have brought me to this death." To the very last, as L'Advenu states in his deposition, she con- tinued to protest and maintain that her Voices were true and unfeigned, and that in obeying them she had obeyed the will of God. As the flames in- creased, she bid L'Advenu stand further from her side, but still hold the cross aloft, that her latest look on earth might fall on the Eedeemer's blessed sign. And the last word which she waa heard to speak ere she expired was--Jesus. Several of the prelates and assessors had already withdrawn in horror from the sight, and others were melted to tears. But the Cardinal of Winchester, still unmoved, gave orders that the ashes and bones of " the heretic " should be collected and cast into the Seine. Such was the end of Joan of Arc--in her death the martyr, as in her life the champion, of her country.

* "Some time afterwards he fled to Basle, where he died suddenly."--Qaicherat, 'Proces,' vol, i. p. 6.

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