After an excellent lecture on the life of Joan of Arc and a nice lunch we were off on our walking tour of Rouen.
Rouen is all about Joan of Arc. The references to her in Rouen are everywhere. She would probably be surprised to learn of her now favorable reception in the town that burned her at the stake.
Joan of Arc was a devout, single, seventeen-year-old when she claims she received instructions from God that Charles VII of France was to be crowned king and that God would be with him if he went to battle against the English to free France from English control. Joan convinced Charles she had heard from God when she told him something personal he had told no one else and she could not have known except God had revealed it to her.
Inspired and emboldened, Charles began to successfully engage the English in battle, was crowned King of France at Reims and reclaimed much of France from the English. In the end, however, Joan was captured by the English, who, for obvious reasons, were more skeptical of the source of her visions. They tried her, found her guilty of heresy, and in 1431, Joan was burned at the stake in the town square at Rouen. In 1920 Joan of Arc was canonized by the Catholic church as a saint.
The problem with so many of those who were sainted by the Catholic church is that the embellishments that developed over the centuries detract from the miracles that actually did happen, the exceptional lives they lived, and the sacrifices they made. It is no different with Joan of Arc.
But there is a good argument to be made that when one strips away the embellishments one finds a girl who loved God and exercised the gifts of prophecy (I Cor. 12:10) and word of knowledge (I Cor. 12:8), and she did so at a time when France needed inspiration and leadership. At the very least, if Joan didn’t hear from God, after visiting Rouen in 2015, one might at least say she gave her life for tourism.
In addition to visiting the place of Joan of Arc’s execution today, we also visited two of Rouen’s medieval churches. They were truly awe-inspiring.
The medieval Christians had an appreciation of beauty and excellence and it is reflected in their churches. The best proof of this is the stark contrast in city after city in Europe between the medieval churches and the boring functionality of modern architecture that surrounds them.
Tomorrow the rest of the cruisers will head to the beaches of Normandy for a D-day tour. The Wife and I have planned a private tour to a castle of one of the most compelling figures of the 12th century. GS