Saint Joan of Arc, called the “the Maid of Orléans,” (in French: Jeanne d'Arc, born c.1412, executed 30th May 1431) is a national heroine of France and declared a saint of the Catholic Church. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed Divine guidance, Joan asserted that she had visions from God which instructed her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War (1337 - 1453).
The uncrowned French king, Charles VII, sent her to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran French commanders and lifted the siege in only nine days.
Several more swift victories led to the coronation of Charles VII at Reims, and settled the disputed succession to the throne. She was captured by the Burgundian army, sold to the English, tried by an ecclesiastical court that was under English political control, and burned at the stake in 1431 when she was only nineteen years old.
Two Augustinian priests and two Augustinian monasteries play an important role in the public life of Joan d'Arc (“the Maid of Orléans”). One of these priests was her spiritual adviser, and the other was one of her opponents. One of the monasteries saw her greatest heroism, the other was witness to her many pious prayers.
The first of these priests was Jean Pasquerel O.S.A., who was a member of the Augustinian monastery of Bayeux but in 1428 at the time of his first meeting with Joan d'Arc was a professor in the theological academy of the Augustinian Order in Tours. He has remained relatively unknown to historians of the Augustinian Order because the Augustinian archives of France have not survived, although he played at least as great a spiritual role for Joan d’Arc as William Flete O.S.A. did for St Catherine of Siena.
Like much else in the life of Joan d'Arc, her meeting with Pasquerel seemed to have about it a touch of divine providence.
Jean Pasquerel was travelling on pilgrimage in 1429. Along the way, he met two soldiers, John of Metz and Bertrand of Poulengy. They remembered seeing this Augustinian priest on some previous occasion and eagerly told him in much detail of the calling of Joan to deliver France from the English, who had ruled parts of France for over a century.
The two soldiers brought this Augustinian friar to Joan d’Arc’s mother, who it seems made him promise to see her daughter and give her all the spiritual help she needed. Pasquerel must either have been already known to her or else immediately made a deep impression on her since she placed such complete confidence in him at this very first meeting. At any rate, the two soldiers promised that they would do everything to bring the priest to Joan.
By way of Chinon they arrived in Tours where Joan of Arc was residing in the house of a private citizen, and suggested she meet this friar. In what was rare for a teenage girl of that time – or of any time - Joan by then had been given a leading military role on the French nationalist side of a war against the disputed English rule of what the English monarchs had held for a century as their territory in France.
Joan replied that Jean Pasquerel would be quite welcome because she had heard of him previously; she asked him to hear her Confession on the following day. This he did and sang a High Mass for her intentions. From this time on he seems to have been convinced of her divine mission and personal holiness, for according to his own statement he followed her everywhere and never left her until their separation after both of them were taken prisoner.
Jean Pasquerel had become her chaplain, along with a Cistercian priest. Even her condemnation to death by burning on the stake could not shake Pasquerel’s conviction that she had been sent by God because she did nothing but good and was altogether virtuous. Nobody could be so assured of this than he who heard her Confession almost daily. Toward the end of her life she made him promise to stay with her always as her confessor.
He could also observe Joan well outside of the confessional because she had appointed him her almoner, secretary and chaplain. He wrote some of her letters for her, or translated them into Latin, if necessary. There are at least two such letters in which the signature name of this Augustinian is included. The one was addressed to Falstaff, the leader of the English in Orléans, and the other to "the heretical Bohemians".
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A copy of the banner prepared at the request of Joan d'Arc by Jean (John) Pasquerel O.S.A. was 1.0m wide and 4.0m in length. Joan's original banner was purposely destroyed by the authorities during the French Revolution.
Side One Image: Upon a field of golden lilies, an image of the King of Heaven seated upon a rainbow, and holding in one hand the world in the form of a globe, the other being raised in a gesture of blessing.
Before Him, to right and to left, were the kneeling figures of Michael and Gabriel, each presenting to Him a fleur-de-lys.
Joan's motto "Jesus-Maria" was written in letters of gold on this rough material.