The Knights of Columbus in France commemorated the 100th anniversary of St. Joan of Arc’s canonization by bringing prayers from around the world to their country’s patron saint.
Knights from the saint’s hometown — Domrémy — collected prayer intentions and left them at the foot of the statue of Our Lady of Beaumont, the same statue St. Joan of Arc prayerfully visited before leaving her village to fight in the Hundred Years’ War. The statue is currently located in the Basilica of Bois-Chênu in Domrémy, which was dedicated to the French saint in the late 19th century.
“This time of confinement is a time of pain and grace,” said Arnaud Boutheon, the Knights of Columbus’ special consultant for French affairs. “We believe in the communion of saints, we believe in the power of prayer, and we know that the Blessed Virgin of Beaumont, who welcomed the prayers of little Joan, will know how to intercede for us with Jesus, to entrust to him our family of the Knights of Columbus and our countries.”
St. Joan of Arc was a shepherdess in medieval France who began hearing the voices of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margaret of Antioch. As a teenager, she felt called by God to help her country that was at war with England. After leading an army in support of the French king, she was condemned to death for heresy by corrupt judges and burned at the stake May 30, 1431, at age 19.
She has since become a symbol of French patriotism, a popular subject in literature and film, but, most importantly, a powerful witness of Christ. For that, Joan of Arc was canonized by Pope Benedict XV on May 16, 1920 — nearly 500 years after she was martyred.
Boutheon believes her vocation, her patriotic duty to serve God and her country, is “universal.”
“St. Joan of Arc gathers in her person many contemporary chivalric virtues such as boldness, charity and freedom of conscience, in the face of cowardice, predation and submission,” Boutheon said. “Through her Fiat, she was able to restore confidence, dignity and hope to men. Her word is a free word, touched by the grace, in the face of pressure from clerics, doctors and scholars.”
Patriotism is a core principle of the Knights of Columbus. And now, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the French Knights are looking to St. Joan of Arc’s example of service to both country and the Church.
“The principle of patriotism invites us to place our steps in those of the saints who bequeathed the Catholic faith to us,” Boutheon said.
During the pandemic, the French Knights have helped food pantries, broadcast Masses and even served as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to bring the Eucharist to the sick and isolated in an effort to leave no neighbor behind. They also co-produced a video with testimonies about how St. Joan of Arc played a role in their lives, which was broadcast on May 1.
For Boutheon and the Knights, their efforts are about humbly serving their countrymen and fostering a spirit of prayer for all in unprecedented circumstances. And what better way to ask than through the intercession of St. Joan of Arc and the saints?
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Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. Access Knightline’s monthly archives.
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