The Beautiful Story of Joan of Arc  by Viola Ruth Lowe

The Martyr Maid of France

T HE MAID waited in her cell for one long terrible week of uncertainty and finally in the chapel of the castle where she remained a prisoner, the good Maid of Domremy was declared by the learned men of the Church to be a heretic, and was condemned to be burned at the stake.

If she had been willing to deny that her Voices were sent by God and that the Saints had never appeared to her, the Maid might have been given her liberty, but she refused to stoop to such base lies.

"If I saw the fire lit and the faggots blazing, if I were in flames, I would say no other thing." This was Joan's decisive and proud reply.

Early one morning she was taken from prison and driven through the streets in a cart, while the crowds jostled her and jeered as she passed.

A cold chill ran through the weakened frame of the young girl as she reached the end of her journey. There, in the market-place was erected a high scaffold with a stake upon it, and faggots waiting to be kindled into flame.

There sat all the judges looking severely at Joan, while one of them preached a long sermon to her. As he spoke words of reproach Joan barely listened, for her thoughts were far away. But suddenly he raised his voice and began to abuse her King, crying out: "It is to you, Joan, I speak, and I tell you your King is a heretic!"

Loyal Joan would not hear her King insulted and said in a firm voice: "Speak of me as you like, but let the King be! By my faith I swear to you under penalty of my life that my King is the most noble Christian of all Christians."

Yet this noble King, who owed his kingdom to the Maid, left her to suffer terrible tortures, and made no attempt to save her.

There she stood upon the solemn scaffold, amidst the pomp of the judges and the noise of the crowd. Again they asked her to renounce her Visions and to sign a paper expressing her submission to their will. The stake loomed before her, and the girl, weak after months of suffering, and fearing the blaze of the fire, said she would submit.

They handed her a long paper to sign.

"Let the Church see it, and if they advise me to sign it, I will obey!"

But they were impatient and cried out, "Sign it at once or be burnt!" And hastily, in fear of her life, she made a cross upon the sheet of paper.


Joan signed the statement denying the Voices and Visions.

Immediately repenting what she had done, the Maid was led back to prison. When the judges visited her a few days later, she told them that she still believed in her Voices, and rejected the paper she had signed, for she knew it was wrong of her to sign the false statements contained in it.

Then they decided that Joan must die, and on the morning of May 30, 1431, she was led forth. One of her judges, L'Oiseleur, was sorry because of the harsh sentence, and climbed into her cart to beg her forgiveness.


L'Oiseleur followed the cart to ask Joan's forgiveness.

She wept pitifully, crying out: "Alas, that my body whole and entire, which has always been kept in purity, should today be consumed and burned to ashes! I appeal to God, the great Judge, for the evils and great wrongs done to me."

They soon reached the market-place and as the Maid mounted the scaffold, she turned to Cauchon and cried, "Bishop, I die through you!"

Then the Maid knelt and prayed, and all who looked upon her wept, while the Bishop of Beauvais read aloud the sentence condemning her to the flames.

Finally the brutal English soldiers who stood about cried out impatiently, "Priests, do you want to make us dine here?"


The Saviour of France was dragged to the stake.

So Joan was bound to the stake. She asked for a cross, and an English soldier made one for her of two bits of wood which he nailed together to form a rude cross. She embraced it, holding it close to her heart, while the bystanders were overcome with remorse.

Then the faggots were set ablaze and the flames mounted around the Maid, illuminating her sweet upturned face with a glory more radiant than the light of the sun. Thus she passed to Paradise.

As the fire dimmed, they found her pure heart untouched by the flames, and the English cried as they fled from the place, "We are lost! We have burned a Saint!"


And the English said, "We are lost! We have burned a Saint!"

True indeed were these prophetic words, for on the 16th of May, 1920, the peasant Maid of France, having at last won recognition from the Church which she loved so dearly, was canonized a Saint to be held in honor and reverence by all.