St. Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans.
I’m going to take a moment to thank personally the wonderful artist who drew and/or painted this picture.
St. Joan of Arc is my confirmation (patron) saint. She has been my role model since I extensively studied her life for a 10-page paper in 8th grade, and then again before my confirmation in high school. She was a brave young woman who fought for her country and her Faith - who did God’s Will, and who struggled to do it, like we all do.
In researching her life, I found so many portraits of her in armor; in prayer; in battle; in her childhood as a shepherdess. Almost 95 percent of the time, she is praying, suffering, or fighting. Most of the time she is seen with the expression that I will call “the saint face” – that expression of ongoing suffering which is only made redemptive through Christ’s Sacrifice; that expression of complete Faith and confidence in God’s Will.
There is nothing wrong with those paintings and portrayals of the Maid of Orleans. But, the above painting makes me cherish her life story and respect her all the more.
She was a young woman - a teenager - when she followed the voices of her Saints, met with her future King, took charge of an army, and led them through several battles. She was captured, imprisoned, tried, and martyred before she had the chance to turn 20 years old.
The above painting shows that better than any I’ve ever seen. She’s young. She’s worked and fought hard. She went through so much just to get an army, let alone lead it to victory.
When I look at this painting, I see St. Joan of Arc – rejoicing, happy, and relieved. She’s not suffering. She’s not looking to the Heavens with a martyred look.
She’s looking to the Heavens with a peaceful, joyful expression - one of gratitude, one of Thanksgiving. She and her army liberated Orleans and drove out the English. Not thanks to her – but thanks to God! And she knows that.
For the moment, a weight has been lifted. God has helped the French to claim the victory, and she’s reveling in that. She’s happy knowing that she liberated her people, and that it was God’s Will to do so. Her saints’ voices are real and true. God is on her side.
There are dark times - challenges, trials, and martyrdom - ahead. Maybe she already knows that. Maybe she doesn’t. But, if she does, she’s not thinking about that. She’s grateful for the moment she has - for the mission God is helping her to carry out. She’s happy that she’s not alone, that she’s not crazy, and that she hasn’t lead her soldiers to their deaths.
She’s happy that God is on her side, and that Christ’s own arm brought about the victory!
So, thank you, wonderful artist, for painting this portrait of St. Joan the way I want to see her - how I have seen her for years: overjoyed, happy, relieved, and grateful; young and bright; strong and courageous atop her white charger. St. Joan – happy to do God’s Will – a model of us all.
St. Joan of Arc, Maid of Orleans, Patroness of France and soldiers, pray for us!