Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

The Trial of Joan of Arc
By W.P. Barrett

Chapter 22: Jeanne is Charitably Exhorted

Wednesday, April 18th. Jeanne is charitably exhorted

Therefore on Wednesday, April 18th, 1431, we the said judges, knowing from the deliberations and opinions of many doctors of sacred theology and of canon law, of licentiates in law and graduates of the other faculties, the great number of serious errors discovered in the answers and assertions of the said Jeanne, and knowing that if she did not correct herself she exposed herself to grave perils: for these reasons we decided to exhort her charitably and gently admonish her, and to have her admonished gently by many men of honesty and learning, doctors and others, in order to lead her back to the way of truth and a sincere profession of the faith. To this end we did this day repair to the place of her prison, accompanied by Guillaume Le Boucher, Jacques de Touraine, Maurice du Quesnay, Nicolas Midi, Guillaume Adelie, and Gerard Feuillet, doctors, and William Haiton, bachelor of sacred theology.

In their presence we the said bishop addressed the said Jeanne, who then said she was ill: we told her that the said masters and doctors had come in all friendliness and charity to visit her in her illness, to comfort and console her. Then we reminded her that for many different days in the presence of many learned persons she had been examined on grave and difficult questions concerning the faith, to which she had given varied and divergent answers which wise and learned men


considering and examining diligently had found to contain words and confessions that from the point of view of the faith were dangerous; but because she was an unlettered and ignorant woman we offered to provide her with wise and learned men, upright and kindly, who could duly instruct her.

We exhorted the doctors and masters then present to give salutary counsel to this Jeanne for the salvation of her body and soul and to conform to the duty of faithfulness which bound them to the true doctrine of the faith. If Jeanne knew others apt for this we offered to send them to her so that they should give her advice and instruction upon what she should do, maintain and believe. We added that we were clergy, that we were by our vocation, will, and inclination, disposed to seek the salvation of the soul and assure that of the body by all possible means, as we should do it for our nearest and for ourselves. That we should be happy each day to furnish her with such men as would instruct her duly, and in a word to perform for her all the Church is accustomed to do in such circumstances, for she does not shut the fold against the lamb who would return. Finally we told the said Jeanne to take good account of the present admonition and to put it into effect. For if she should act in opposition thereto, trusting to her own mind and her inexperienced head, we should be compelled to abandon her; that she must therefore see the peril which would result to her in that case; which, with all our might and affection, we hoped to avoid.

To which Jeanne answered that she thanked us for what we said of her salvation, and added: "It seems to me, seeing how ill I am, that I am in great danger of death: if it be that God desires to do His pleasure on me, I ask to receive confession and my Saviour also, and a burial in holy ground."

Then she was told that if she wished to receive the sacraments of the Church, she must do as good Catholics are in


duty bound, and must submit to the holy Church, and if she persisted in her intention not to submit to the Church she would not be allowed to receive the sacraments she asked for, except the sacrament of penance, which we were always ready to administer. But she answered: "I cannot now tell you anything more."

She was told that the more she feared for her life because of her illness, the more she ought to amend that life; that she would not enjoy the rights of the Church as a Catholic if she did not submit to the Church. She answered: "If my body dies in prison, I trust you will have it buried in holy ground; if you do not, I put my trust in Our Lord."

She was told that in her trial she had said that if she had done or said anything contrary to our Christian faith ordained by God she would not wish to sustain it. She answered: "I refer me to the answer which I made and to Our Lord."

Then, as she had professed to have many revelations from God through the medium of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret, she was asked this question: "If some good creature were to come to you and affirm that he had received revelations from God concerning your mission, would you believe him?" She answered that no Christian in the world could come to her saying he had a revelation about her but she would know whether he was speaking the truth or not; she would know it through St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

Asked whether she thought God could reveal nothing to a good creature which she would not know, she answered that she knew well that He could. "But " she added "I should not believe any man or woman if I had no sign."

Asked whether she believed that the Holy Scriptures were revealed by God, she answered: "You know it well, it is good to know that it was."

Then she was summoned, exhorted and required to take


the good counsel of the clergy and notable doctors and trust in it for the salvation of her soul. She was asked if she would submit her acts and sayings to the Church Militant, and answered in the end: "Whatever happens to me I will do and say nothing except what I have already said in the trial."

Whereupon the venerable doctors above mentioned who were present exhorted her as urgently as they could, to submit herself and her sayings to the Church Militant, citing in explanation to her many authorities and examples from the Holy Scriptures. And in particular one of the doctors [master Nicolas Midi], in his exhortation, quoted this passage from St. Matthew, chapter xviii. "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, etc.," and also, "If he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." This was explained to Jeanne in French, and she was finally told that if she would not submit to the Church and obey it she would be abandoned as an infidel.

To which the said Jeanne answered that she was a good Christian, and had been properly baptized, and so she would die a good Christian.

Asked why, since she requested the Church to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist to her, she would not submit to the Church Militant, as then she had been promised the sacrament, she answered that she would not reply other than she had already done on the question of submission; she loved God, was a good Christian and desired to aid and support Holy Church with all her strength.

Asked if she did not wish a fine and distinguished procession to be ordained to restore her to a good estate if she were not therein, she answered that she much desired the Church and the Catholics to pray for her.



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