Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Joan of Arc was burned as a heretic. Now she is a saint. How does the Roman Catholic Church explain this? It turned out that the Roman Catholic Church has murdered its own saint? Has any logical explanation ever been offered for this?

share|improve this question
It gets complex here as to whether execution is murder, especially when talking about military campaigns... –  Marc Gravell May 1 '12 at 8:32
@Marc - Well, let's then just change "murder" to "end the life of" –  brilliant May 1 '12 at 8:44
Also in fiction there's the play, Saint Joan, by George Bernard Shaw. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Joan –  Walter Mitty May 1 '12 at 10:42

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

She was burned by the English clergy who denied her appeal to the Pope near the end of the Hundred Years War and she was cleared of all charges only 30 years after her death (even though it took almost 500 years to canonize her).

And yeah, there's been extensive research and analysis of what happened. The trial and the aftermath is all amazingly well documented and worth reading; or if you prefer historical fiction Mark Twain has an awesome book about her.

share|improve this answer

I'm no defender of the Roman Church, but if the Church is identified with Israel (which it is, the New Israel) it follows that it will be the one who kills the prophets, and then afterwards repents. I don't know how the Roman Church explains it given the particular theology surrounding the papacy, but in general the persons in the church from layman to highest bishop are all fallible.

In the history of the Church there have been good and bad leaders, and there have been saints who misunderstood and disliked each other (Cyril of Alexandria and John Chrysostom are a commonly-cited example.) In Athanasius' time, Athanasius was exiled and hounded countless times by the Church, but not because the Church was rejecting him, but because the leadership and others were fallible and didn't really understand what they were doing (to borrow Christ's words.)

Plus if I recall, the effects of Arius on the leaders there. He who 'deceived even the elect, if such a thing were possible.'

share|improve this answer
Can you, please, share more on what were the differences between Cyril of Alexandria and John Chrysostom? I just aked this question here: What are the main points of descent between Cyril of Alexandria and John Chrysostom? –  brilliant May 1 '12 at 6:38

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.