Joan of Arc Cross

Here is one of the few tangible remains of the short life of Jeanne d'Arc, who for centuries, has been the encouragement and inspiration for women, especially women in the Church.

Joan of Arc Cross

Joan of Arc Cross
Joan of Arc coat of arms

Letter granting armorial bearings
Manuscrit français 5524 de la Bibliothéque nationale de Paris – folio 142
(Click image to enlarge)

The design of this cross is taken directly from the coat of arms of Joan of Arc, granted to her family by Charles VII on 2 June 1429. This was in recognition of her remarkable success in leading the army to break the siege of Orléans, resulting in the withdrawal of the English in 1429. French sovereignty resumed shortly afterwards.

On the coat of arms (see image on the right) the two fleurs de lis either side of the cross are emblematic of French monarchy, yet the crown represents the ultimate sovereignty of Christ. It is worth noting that the sword, although in the upright orientation ready for fighting, is actually hilted within the crown.

The sword is short, like a dagger. This is not because a full-length iron sword would have been too heavy and cumbersome for a teenage girl to weild. Her strength was more in using the strategic inspiration she had gained from her visions, rather than swordsmanship. – a skill she probably did not have much time to develop anyway.

The sword is short and stubby to suit its heraldic role. It is emblematic of St. Michael, often depicted with a sword (see Josh. 5:13-15). He is one of the archangels Joan saw in a vision at the age of 12, who inspired her to embark on a short, yet remarkably successful, mission.

Cross of Lorraine

The similarity between the Joan of Arc Cross and the Loraine Cross is not a coincidence. Joan was born in the village of Domrémy, later incorporated to the Lorraine province.

It is not easy to understand why the French leaders, military and commoners, believed that this teenage peasant had seen visions from angels and had a divine message to lead the French military to victory against the invaders.

How could so many devout French Catholics believe that God had inspired the killing of hundreds or thousands of English foot soldiers, so that a French king could once more reign? Could it all possibly have been a plot by the elite (a word of French origin) to increase their wealth and power? (See dubious origins of Church Wealth.)

It's not easy for us to understand anything from that time period, if we look at it through 21st century spectacles.

And yet the same thing happens in the 21st century, where national leaders claim they are on a divine mission in their attempt to legitimize daft excuses for waging war.

How could so many people today, with the benefit of even rudimentary intelligence and education, believe that God had inspired the killing of tens or hundreds of thousands of people, so that our style of society could be imposed on another society? Could it all possibly be a plot by the elite (a word of negative connotations, but something most of us want to be) to increase their wealth and power?

Medieval combat swords were not particularly heavy, weighing perhaps 1.5 kg (source:

Yes, swords-man-ship; not swords-woman-ship. The word "swordswoman" is appropriate to describe a female with a certain art or skill with swords, but when it comes to denoting that art or skill, the correct word is swordsmanship.


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