Saint Joan among the Knights in New Haven

She has been cast as suffragist, freedom fighter, rebel, Rosy the Riveter, femme fatale, circus spectacle, martyr, cross-dresser, heretic, apostate, victim, martyr, saint. That's some resume for an illiterate peasant who died at the age of 21.

She is Joan of Arc, a French Catholic girl born in 1412 who said when she was about 12 that God mandated her to drive the English from France. Despite her military successes, her faith, and God's calling, she was not exempt from the tribulations of court politics that cost her her life. She was burned at the stake.

Twenty three years later, though, Catholic Church officials overturned Joan's conviction. In his final summary of the case, Inquisitor Brehal described Joan as a martyr who was wrongly executed by corrupt, partisan clergy abusing a Church trial for secular purposes. Since martyrs are automatically considered saints, her canonization was effectively initiated at this point. Half a millennium later--in 1920--the Church canonized Joan as a saint.

Joan of Arc's story in paintings, sculptures, text, and artifacts is on view in the show "Joan of Arc, Medieval Maiden to Modern Saint" at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Connecticut. The show will teach you as much about this incredible woman as it will teach you about historical revisionism. Every age has worked to make her story its own. You'll see illuminated manuscripts, images from Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel's Attack on the Fortress of Les Tournelles, circus posters, replica armor, prayer cards, chain mail....and you'll walk away respecting the faith of a child to do the best she could with everything she was in the name of God.

Joan of Arc experts Dr. Nora M. Heimann and Laura A. Coyle guest curated the exhibition of artifacts from private collectors, educational institutions, and museums.


  1. Anonymous1:12 PM

    A wonderful exhibit if you can get to was marketing, wasn't it, you termed it, that led the church to make Joan a saint.

    Interesting, too, that the phrasing of why she was canonized was left in there in this museum run by an organization affiliated with the Catholic church.

  2. The last side altar to be added in Notre Dame de Paris is at the back of the cathedral, on the right side of the nave. It is dedicated to Jean d'Arc. In the same cathedral where she was condemned, and then beatified and sanctified.

  3. That's intresting, Greg. Thanks. Condemned, beatified, sanctified all in the same place. Just goes to show--it's possible to go home!


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