Today — which in the U.S. this year happens to be Memorial Day — is also the anniversary of the death of St. Joan of Arc, who was burnt at the stake on May 30th in 1431.  Probably not even twenty years old when she died, she continues to live in the popular imagination as a warrior, dressed in military armor, riding into battle.  Joan thus seems to embody something quite different from what traditional images of femininity suggest.  She was listening to higher, “inner voices,” as she herself described them.  And in that she displayed, powerfully, how God’s calling can function as a profound challenge to established gender identities and their cultural codes.  Holy lives, in other words, also embody their own profound challenges to the living of gendered identity.  Thank you, Saint Joan of Arc, for the witness of your own, short life, on this, your memorial day.

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