Recently I started reading a book written by “Fr.” Stefano Manelli, O.F.M. Conv.,S.T.D., called Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love. This book, written in 1973, has the “nihil obstat” and the “imprimatur”, so I was sure it did not teach anything contrary to the Catholic faith. In this book, on pages 52 and 53, I was startled to read that “St.” Joan of Arc received the Eucharist before going to her death.

“The same fortitude and joy was given to St. Joan of Arc when she was allowed to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist before going to her execution at the stake. When Jesus entered her dark prison, the Saint fell on her knees, and, wearing her chains, received Jesus, and became absorbed in prayer. As soon as she was bidden to go forth to her death, she rose and made her journey without interrupting her prayer. She proceeded to the stake and died amid the flames, ever in union with Jesus, Who remained in her soul and in that body which was sacrificed.”

According to Catholic doctrine, it is forbidden to give a “heretic” the Eucharist. One must be in the state of grace when receiving “Jesus”. Let’s read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on this subject.

“Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion MUST BE IN THE STATE OF GRACE. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance” (#1415)

If one “must be in the state of grace” to receive Jesus, then why would they have given a “heretic” the Eucharist? After all, heresy is “a formal denial or doubt by a baptized person of any revealed truth of the Catholic faith” (My Catholic Faith, Morrow, 152). Heresy is considered a “grievous sin, it is rebellion against God” (The Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary, 267). Another question arises: Why would they burn someone who had just received “Jesus”? According to Catholic doctrine, the communion host is “the whole Christ...body, blood, soul and divinity”. That means, that according to Rome, they burned “Jesus” at the stake along with Joan of Arc. You would think, if these men truly believed in the doctrine of transubstantiation, that they would not have burned her, or at least not have given her the Eucharist, seeing she was a “heretic”.

Of course, all this wavering to and fro by RCC leaders made me wonder just what “heresy” Joan of Arc was burned for. After all, she would later be declared a saint in 1920 by pope Benedict XV, and pope Calixtus III, in 1456, would recant Rome’s infallible decree, or as they put it, declare the trial “unjust and void”.

Think of the improbability of the sequence of events in this case.  The Church kills a young girl (only 19 years old), burning her alive at the stake, then later make a saint out of her, then later build temples in honor of her. Surely the false spirit of the Pharisees resides in Rome! Listen to Jesus reply to the Pharisees when they said that, had they been living at the time when the Old Testament prophets had been living, they would not have killed them.  Jesus was very, very blunt.

“Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.” (Lu.11:47-48)

Joan of Arc was in no way a prophet, let alone a saint, yet the act of burning her alive when she was such a young child, disturbs me as a mother. How much more should a system, claiming to be the “mother” of God’s children, have mercy??? After all, many young children get caught up in things not good for them, and repent when they are old enough to realize their mistakes. I have three sons, They went through rough times where they rebelled, but the thought of burning them alive for their crimes is just unthinkable! If Roman Catholicism is the “mother” of all Christianity, as she claims, then she is guilty of the worse case of child abuse and her children should be taken from her . A good husband would intervene and not permit his children from being abused in such a manner by their own mother. How much more would God, our Father, not judge such things?

So...what was the heresy for which Joan of Arc was burned? In Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization: The Reformation, we read:

“Her trial began on February 21, 1431, and continued till May 30. Cauchon presided, one of his canons served as prosecutor, a Dominican monk represented the Inquisition, and some forty men learned in theology and law were added to the panel. The charge was heresy . To check the monstrous regiment of magic-mongers that infested Europe, the Church had made the claim to divine inspiration a heresy punishable with death. Witches were being burned for pretending to supernatural powers; and it was a common opinion, among churchmen and laymen, that those who made such claims might actually have received supernatural powers from the Devil. Some of Joan's  jurors seem to have believed this in her case. IN THEIR JUDGMENT HER REFUSAL TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH, AS THE VICAR OF CHRIST ON EARTH, COULD OVERRIDE THAT OF HER “VOICES” PROVED HER A SORCERESS. This became the opinion of the majority of the court ... Some jurors argued that the matter should be laid before the pope ... Joan expressed a desire to be sent to him, but drew a firm distinction that ruined her: SHE WOULD ACKNOWLEDGE HIS SUPREME AUTHORITY IN MATTERS OF FAITH, BUT AS CONCERNED WHAT SHE HAD DONE IN OBEDIENCE TO HER VOICES SHE WOULD OWN NO JUDGE BUT GOD HIMSELF. THE JUDGES AGREED THAT THIS WAS HERESY. Weakened by months of questioning, she was persuaded to sign a retraction; but when she found that this still left her condemned to lifelong imprisonment within English jurisdiction, she revoked her retraction...On May 31, a few of the judges convened, and sentenced her to death ... The faggots were lighted, and the flames rose about her feet. Seeing the Dominican still beside her, she urged him to descend to safety. She invoked her voices, her saints, the Archangel Michael. and Christ, and was consumed in agony” (85-86; Emphasis added).

So, the bottom line is that Joan of Arc put the authority of the “voices” she heard above the authority of the Roman Catholic church. This is why she was burned as a “heretic”. She was permitted to receive the Eucharist, while denying Rome’s authority, yet she is a saint today. Thus, she was erroneously given the Eucharist because she had refused to accept the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.  Joan of Arc died because she recognized a higher authority than the Pope, or his Church.

Now, I don’t want to seem contentious, but in 2 Peter 1:16-21, we read:

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy ; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” [Emphasis added]

Here Peter is boldly telling us that we have a “more sure word” than that of the voice of God Himself, coming directly from heaven, and that we are to take heed to it! The voice of God testified that Jesus was His “Son in whom I am well pleased”. But, the scriptures testified long before by prophesy that Jesus was the “Son”. That’s why we have a “more sure word”. In other words, the Apostle Peter, speaking directly under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is ordering his followers to place more authority in prophecy of the written Word of God [Bible], than in the very voice of God, speaking supernaturally from His Throne in Heaven!

Yet, those of us who have put the word of God above the authority of the Roman Catholic church have been labeled “heretics”. If Catholicism ruled again, she would feel justified in burning us at the stake for heresy. Yet, they ultimately made a saint out of a woman who comitted a heresy in their opinion, by putting the voices of “Mary” above the authority of the Catholic church.

One day, the Roman Catholic church will have to confess that those who trusted God’s word above their words were truly “saints”. Which side will you be on in that day?

by Rebecca A. Sexton