by Peter Darcy
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
A big fan of Joan of Arc is our editor: Gordon Nary. This book tells of her leadership virtues as a mystic and a warrior who obeyed the command of God to perform extraordinary deeds. Because of her virtue, she had a profound effect on both the earthly and heavenly kingdoms. Among all the excellent qualities Joan of Arc exhibited in her short life, Darcy focuses on seven: spirit (her spiritual formation and personal zeal); identity (her strong sense of self and personal calling); power (her excellent judgment in using coercive power to save her country); mobility (her purposeful action in executing her mission); realism ((her ability to judge correctly what to do in complex situations); attraction (her immense powers of persuasion); and inspiration (the way in which she called the men and women of her day to heroism). Fine leadership skills are a rare trait, and it is unlikely that anyone is truly born a leader. Many people become good leaders through training but others, like Joan of Arc, have a God given charism of leadership that enhances their natural skills for leading men and nations In these rare instances, the individual’s human formation, character, and circumstances add the rest. History has seen its share of great leaders and Joan of Arc, who did extraordinary things in such a short period of time, takes her place among them in one of history’s fullest expressions of leadership.
Similar to today’s situation of the pandemic, Joan was born shortly after the Black Plague wiped out half the population of France. Joan came into the world during an era of great social and political upheaval. She convinced the crown prince of France, Charles VII to appoint her as leader fo France’s military forces so that she could lift the siege of the city of Orleans and begin the liberation of her country from English domination. She was able to do so at the age of 18! She liberated all of Northern France and assisted Charles in becoming the King of France. The failure of the diplomatic efforts led to Joan’s military losses and her eventual capture. She was held captive for the next year and was eventually imprisoned and brought to trial. This trial remains one of the greatest acts of injustice ever recorded. She was convicted of heresy and burned at the stake in the city square of Rouen on May 31st, 1431 at the tender age of 19.The Catholic Church conducted an official review of the trial that condemned Joan of Arc twenty-five years earlier. The process known as the Rehabilitation, completely nullified the original verdict of her condemnation. The Catholic Church canonized Joan as a saint and a martyr in the year 1920, nearly 500 years after Joan’s life and deeds.
The author provides all with a way to follow the mission of Christ. The seven leadership skills provide us with reflections on how to live them in our daily lives. In this time of the pandemic, use the book for a daily meditation on each of the virtues of leadership. Darcy calls us to transform the lives of people around you through this book.