May 24

May 24, 1431

Thursday, May 24th. The public sermon. Jeanne recants. The mitigated sentence is pronounced.

On Thursday after Whitsuntide, May 24th of the same year, we the said judges repaired in the morning to a public place, in the cemetery of the abbey of Saint-Ouen at Rouen, where the said Jeanne was present before us on a scaffold or platform. First we had a solemn sermon pronounced by master Guillaume Erart, a distinguished doctor of sacred theology, for the salutary admonition of the said Jeanne and of the great multitude of people present. We had with us:

the very reverend father in Christ Henry by divine permission priest of St. Eusebius and cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, commonly called cardinal of England;

  • the reverend fathers in Christ the bishops of Thérouanne, of Noyon and Norwich;
    my lord abbots of Ste. Trinité de Fécamp, of St. Ouen of Rouen, of Jumièges, of Bec-Hellouin, of Cormeilles, of St. Michel au-peril-de-la-mer, of Mortemer, of Préaulx;
    the priors of Longueville and of St. Lô of Rouen;
  • masters Jean de Châtillon,
  • Jean Beaupère,
  • Nicolas Midi,
  • Maurice du Quesnay,
  • Guillaume Le Boucher,
  • Jean Le Fèvre,
  • Pierre Houdenc,
  • Pierre Maurice,
  • Jean Fouchier, doctors;
  • William Haiton,
  • Nicolas Couppequesne,
  • Thomas de Courcelles,
  • Raoul Le Sauvage,
  • Richard de Grouchet,
  • Pierre Minier,
  • Jean Pigache, bachelors of sacred theology;
  • Raoul Roussel, doctor of canon and civil law;
  • Jean Garin, doctor of canon law;
  • Nicolas de Venderès,
  • Jean Pinchon,
  • Jean Le Doulx,
  • Robert Le Barbier, licentiates in canon law;
  • André Marguerie,
  • Jean Alespée, licentiates in civil law,
  • Aubert Morel,
  • Jean Colombel,
  • Jean Duchemin, licentiates in canon law, and many others.

The said doctor began his sermon by taking for his text the word of God in the fifteenth chapter of St. John: “A branch *cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine.” Then he solemnly explained that all Catholics must abide in the true vine of Our Holy Mother Church which Our Lord planted with His right hand: he showed how this Jeanne had cut herself off from the unity of our Holy Mother Church by many errors and grave crimes, and how she had frequently scandalized the Christian people. He admonished and exhorted her and the multitude of people by salutary doctrines.

When the sermon was over he addressed Jeanne in these terms: “Behold my Lords your judges who have repeatedly summoned and required you to submit all your words and deeds to Our Holy Mother Church, showing and pointing out to you that in the opinion of the clergy many things are to be found in your words and deeds which it is good neither to affirm nor uphold.”

To which Jeanne replied: “I will answer you. Touching my submission to the Church, I have answered them on this point. Let all that I have said and done be sent to Rome to our Holy Father the Pope to whom after God I refer myself. As for my words and deeds, they were done at God’s command.” She said that she charged no one with them, neither her king nor any other; and if there were any fault it was hers and no other person’s.

Asked whether she would revoke all her words and deeds which are disapproved of by the clergy, She answered: I refer me to God and to our Holy Father the Pope.”

Then she was told that this would not suffice, that it was not possible to seek Our Holy Father the Pope at such a distance: that the ordinaries were each in his own diocese competent judges. Therefore she must needs submit to Our Holy Mother Church, and hold as true all that the clergy and other authorities had said and decided concerning her words and deeds. Whereupon she was admonished by three admonitions.

Then, as this woman would say no more we the said bishop began to read the final sentence. When we had already completed the greater part of the reading, Jeanne began to speak, and said she would hold all that the Church should ordain, all that her judges should say and decree, and would obey our ordinance and will in all things. She said repeatedly that inasmuch as the clergy had pronounced that her revelations and apparitions were not to be upheld or believed, she would not maintain them; but would refer in all things to her judges and our Holy Mother Church.

Then in the presence of the aforenamed and before a great multitude of people and clergy, she made and pronounced her recantation and abjuration, according to the formula of a certain schedule written in French which was then read, which she uttered with her own lips and signed with her own hand. The tenor thereof follows.

Jeanne’s Abjuration

“All those who have erred and been at fault in the Christian faith and have by God’s grace returned to the light of truth and unity of Our Holy Mother Church, should vigilantly prevent the Enemy of Hell from driving them back and causing their relapse into error and damnation.

Therefore, I, Jeanne, commonly called The Maid, a miserable sinner recognizing the snares of error in which I was held, and being by God’s grace returned to Our Holy Mother Church, in order to show that my return is made not feignedly but with a good heart and will, I confess that I have most grievously sinned in falsely pretending to have had revelations and apparitions from God, His angels, St. Catherine and St. Margaret; in seducing others; in believing foolishly and lightly; in making superstitious divinations, in blaspheming God and His Saints; in breaking the divine law, Holy Scripture, and the canon laws; in wearing a dissolute, ill-shaped and immodest dress against the decency of nature, and hair cropped round like a man’s, against all the modesty of womankind; also in bearing arms most presumptuously; in cruelly desiring the shedding of human blood; in declaring that I did all these things by the command of God, His angels and the said saints, and that to do so was good and not to err; in being seditious and idolatrous, adoring and calling up evil spirits.

I confess also that I have been schismatic and in many ways have erred from the path: These crimes and errors, I, being by God’s grace returned to the way of truth through the holy doctrine and good counsel of yourself and the doctors and masters whom you sent me, unfeignedly and with a good heart abjure and recant, renouncing and cutting myself off from them all.

Upon all the aforesaid things I submit to the correction, disposition, amendment and entire decision of Our Holy Mother Church and of your good justice.

And I vow, swear and promise to you, to my lord Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles, to Our Holy Father the Pope of Rome, his vicar and his successors, to you, my lords, to the lord bishop of Beauvais and the religious brother Jean Le Maistre, vicar of the lord Inquisitor of the faith, my judges, that I will never through exhortation or other means return to the aforesaid errors, from which it has pleased God to deliver and remove me; but will always dwell in the unity of Our Holy Mother Church and the obedience of our Holy Father the Pope of Rome.

This I say, affirm and swear by God almighty and the holy Gospels. In sign whereof I have signed this schedule with my mark.”

Signed “Jehanne +.”

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Here follows the tenor of this abjuration in Latin [an exactly similar document].

Sentence after the Abjuration

And lastly, after we the judges had received her recantation and abjuration as is set forth above, we the said bishop pronounced our definitive sentence in these terms:

“In the name of the Lord, amen. All pastors of the Church who desire and endeavor to lead the Lord’s flock faithfully must, when the perfidious sower of errors laboriously attempts with great cunning to infect the flock of Christ with virulent poisons, assemble their whole strength in order to combat the assaults of the Evil one with greater vigilance and more urgent solicitude. This is particularly necessary in these dangerous times in which the words of the apostle announced that many false prophets would come into the world and introduce sects of perdition and error, which by their varied and foreign doctrines might seduce Christ’s faithful people, if our Holy Mother Church with the aid of healthy doctrine and canonical sanctions, did not struggle to overthrow these erroneous inventions. Therefore before us, your competent judges, namely Pierre by divine mercy bishop of Beauvais and brother Jean Le Maistre, vicar in this city and diocese of the notable master Jean Graverent, Inquisitor of Heretical Error in the kingdom of France, especially appointed by him to officiate in this cause, you, Jeanne, commonly called The Maid, have been arraigned to account for many pernicious crimes and have been charged in a matter of faith.

And having seen and examined with diligence the course of your trial and all that occurred therein, principally the answers, confessions and affirmations which you made; after having also considered the most notable decision of the masters of the Faculties of Theology and of Decrees in the University of Paris, in addition to that of the general assembly of the University, and of the prelates, doctors and men learned in theology and both canon and civil law who were met together in a great multitude in this town of Rouen and elsewhere for the discussion and judgment of your statements, words and deeds; having taken counsel and mature conference with those zealots of the Christian faith, and having seen and weighed all there is to see and weigh in this matter, all that we and any man of judgment and law could and should observe: we, having the honor of the orthodox faith before our eyes, so that our judgment may seem to emanate from the face of Our Lord, we say, decree and pronounce that you have gravely sinned by falsely simulating revelations and apparitions, by seducing others, by lightly and rashly believing, by uttering superstitious prophecies, by blaspheming God and His saints, by prevaricating to the law, the Holy Scripture, and the canonical sanctions, by despising God in His sacraments, by fomenting seditions, by apostasy, by falling into the crime of heresy and erring on many points in the Catholic faith.

But inasmuch as you have, after repeated charitable admonitions, by God’s help through a long delay returned into the bosom of Our Holy Mother Church, and with contrite heart unfeignedly, as we would fain believe, have openly renounced your errors, which since they have lately been reproved in a public sermon, you have with your own lips publicly abjured along with all heresy: according to the form appointed by ecclesiastical sanctions we unbind you by these presents from the bonds of excommunication which enchained you, on condition that you return to the Church with a true heart and sincere faith, observing what is and shall be enjoined by us.

But inasmuch as you have rashly sinned against God and the Holy Church, we finally and definitely condemn you for salutary penance to perpetual imprisonment, with the bread of sorrow and water of affliction, that you may weep for your faults and never henceforth commit anything to occasion weeping.”

The afternoon of the same day, May 24th. Jeanne puts on woman’s dress

In the afternoon of the same day we, brother Jean Le Maistre, vicar aforementioned, accompanied by the noble lords and masters Nicolas Midi, Nicolas Loiseleur, Thomas de Courcelles, and brother Ysambard de La Pierre, and several others, repaired to the prison where Jeanne then was. We and our assessors explained to her how God had on this day been most merciful to her, and how the clergy had shown her great mercy by receiving her into the grace and pardon of our Holy Mother Church: how therefore it was right that she, Jeanne, should humbly submit to and obey the sentence and ordinance of the lord judges and ecclesiastics, and should altogether abandon her errors and her former inventions, never to return to them; how, if she did return to them, the Church would not receive her to clemency, and she would be wholly abandoned. Moreover, she was told that she must put off her male costume and take woman’s dress, as the Church had commanded.

Jeanne answered that she would willingly wear woman’s dress, and in all things obey and submit to the clergy. She was given woman’s dress which she put on immediately she had taken off the male costume: she desired and allowed her hair, which had hitherto been cut short round the ears, to be shaved off and removed.

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