Joan of Arc, The Dove and Rose

St. Joan of Arc’s Intellect

Previously, I wrote on the clear, deeply insightful structure of St. Thérèse’s intellect. St. Joan of Arc, the other half of the dynamic celestial duo, requires her own commentary.

As opposed to Thérèse who wrote memoirs and letters in her own hand, we have no account of Joan’s thoughts as expressed through her own writing. On the one hand, Joan is perhaps the most documented figure in medieval history; yet, on the other, she neither could read nor write except for her name which she spelled “Jehanne.” Still, we know verbatim every single thing she said at her three month trial due to the court transcribers. We also know indirectly what she said on other occasions based on numerous testimonies at her trial of rehabilitation by those who grew up with her and later campaigned alongside under her leadership.

Whereas Thérèse wrote with more baroque style and flair, Joan, by all accounts, seems to have communicated in rather plain speak. Joan was straightforward and to the point. She was pious, kind, and charitable; however, she spoke the truth plainly and certainly seemed not to care about how that truth would be received. Her letter to the English besieging Orléans basically said, paraphrased, “Leave and go home. We will give you safe passage and think no ill of you. However, if you do not, I will come with my army and make you wish you had never been born.” No ambiguity. At her first questioning in Poitiers, a theologian priest who was rather proud of his elite French accent asked Joan if her voices from Heaven spoke French. She replied, “Better than you.” At her trial of condemnation, she was asked a question a second time to see if she would trip up and answer differently. She answered the same as before and told the questioner that if he did it again, she would “box his ears.” Joan spoke clearly. Her “yes was yes” and her “no was no.”

We can see that Joan, like Thérèse, possessed a strong intellect – clear, unambiguous, insightful. Joan had no formal education outside of what she learned from her mother. Yet, in similar fashion as Thérèse, Joan had a well structured intellect. Joan knew the “right” things as opposed to “many” things. This is why she so befuddled and frustrated her inquisitors who all were elite theologians from the university of Paris. They knew “many” things while Joan knew “right” things and possessed a more highly developed intellectual structure to process these right things with clarity.

Though Thérèse and Joan each appear to have communicated in different styles, they both appear to have had the same “right” intuition and well-formed structure of the mind. Joan and Thérèse are more than sisters in heart; they also are of the same mind.

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