Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pope: Joan of Arc a Role Model for Public Officials

Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that public officials would do well to model themselves on Joan of Arc, the French saint who was tried for heresy and burned at the stake for her convictions.

Benedict highlighted the life of the 15th century mystic in his weekly general audience. For several months he has used his Wednesday catechisms to promote an important woman in the church's history.

Joan of Arc led the French to several victories over the English during the Hundred Years War. She had said she heard voices from a trio of saints telling her to deliver France from the English.

She was tried for heresy and witchcraft and burned at the stake in 1431, though her conviction was later annulled. She was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

"Hers is a beautiful example of holiness for lay people working in public life, particularly during the most difficult situations," Benedict XVI said.

Benedict expressed bitterness at how Joan of Arc had been treated by the church, saying her heresy trial was a "upsetting page" in church history and was due to French churchmen "who had made different political choices" than she.

But he noted that the illiterate farm girl nevertheless went to her death professing a love for the church and Christ.

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