Joan of Arc vs. Lancelot Andrewes

February 23, 2012
Tim Schenck

Well, friends, after all the hype and all the anticipation and all the pageantry of the opening ceremonies (oh, did you miss that? Madonna sang "40 Days and 40 Nights"), Lent Madness 2012 is now upon us. Our first match-up is between a learned bishop and a young peasant girl born nearly 150 years apart. Sounding incongruous? Welcome to the beauty, intrigue, and mystery of the Lent Madness bracket.

The fate of these two saints is now in your hands with the winner destined to take on the victor of John Huss vs. Mary Magdalene in the Round of the Saintly Sixteen. But that's getting way ahead of ourselves. Today, your task is to vote wisely and encourage everyone you know to get in the Lent Madness game.

Lancelot Andrewes (1555 - 1626), Bishop of Chichester, Ely, and later Winchester, is perhaps best known as the lead translator of the Old Testament books Genesis through 2Kings in the Authorized Version of the Bible (also known as the King James Bible because it was commissioned by King James I in 1604). An exceptionally learned man who mastered fifteen modern European languages in addition to six ancient ones, Andrewes was also a celebrated preacher who enjoyed the privilege of preaching Christmas (and other) sermons before Queen Elizabeth I and later King James I. At the same time, Andrewes was known to spend several hours a day in prayer. More than twenty years after his death, his private devotions - a collection of Scripture, thoughts and prayers written in Greek and Hebrew - were finally translated and published, and they are still in print.

Andrewes’ scholarly work was described by one biographer as “a coat of mail, strong but mobile.” His sermons earned him the description as “the star of preachers” and an “angel in the pulpit,” although Puritans disliked his frequent references and quotes in Latin and modern ears might find his manifold use of puns and wordplay odd at best and off-putting at worst. See, for example, his riff on Immanuel (God with us) and Immanu-hell (us without God) and Immanu-all (the happy result of the Nativity) preached on Christmas of 1614. His prayer life included the remembrance of whales, as evidenced by his Thursday prayers based on the Fifth Day of Creation from Genesis. Among Bishop Andrewes’ friends were George Herbert and Richard Hooker, and his feast day is celebrated on September 25th.

Collect for Lancelot Andrewes: O Lord and Father, our King and God, by whose grace the Church was enriched by the great learning and eloquent preaching of your servant Lancelot Andrewes, but even more by his example of biblical and liturgical prayer: Conform our lives, like his, to the image of Christ, that our hearts may love you, our minds serve you, and our lips proclaim the greatness of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

--Penny Nash

Joan of Arc (1412 - 1431) is the patron of France and of soldiers. Born to peasant parents in the village of Domremy, Joan (or Jehanne, as she signed her name in French) began to hear the voices (and sometimes see some kind of vision) of St Michael, St Catherine and St Margaret when she was thirteen. At first, they simply urged her to develop her piety but eventually began to direct her to become involved in the struggle to bring Charles, son of King Charles VI, to the contested French throne.

Obediently, 17-year old Joan traveled to the French court, took on male attire, and persisted in making her way through the layers of bureaucracy by predicting the outcome of certain military operations and then by recognizing the king in his disguise. She convinced him to allow her to command an army, and using a sword that had been buried behind the altar of St Catherine de Fierbois, she led her army to a spectacular victory over the English at Orleans. Charles’ supporters were reinvigorated by the inspiration of this armored Maid of Orleans, and after a string of victories, Charles was crowned at the Cathedral in Rheims with Joan in attendance.

She laid down her arms on the altar of St Denis after being shot through the thigh with a crossbow but went back to the field one more time. At Compegnie, Joan was trapped outside the castle, dragged from her horse, and promptly sold to the English with no intervention by Charles. Held in a secular prison guarded by English soldiers, she continued to wear male clothing for protection. The Inquisition was called in.

After nearly five months of testimony, beginning with charges of witchcraft and ending with a conviction of engaging in cross-dressing, Joan was condemned a heretic at nineteen, and she was burned at the stake in Rouen on May 30, 1431.  A new trial by the Church in 1450 overturned her conviction and declared Joan to be a martyr. She was canonized (declared a saint) in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV, who called her a “most brilliant shining light” of God. Her story has been the subject of hundreds of books, plays, musical compositions, and art.

Prayer for Joan of Arc: In the face of your enemies, in the face of harassment, ridicule, and doubt, you held firm in your faith. Even in your abandonment, alone and without friends, you held firm in your faith. Even as you faced your own mortality, you held firm in your faith. I pray that I may be as bold in my beliefs as you, St. Joan. I ask that you ride along beside me in my own battles. Help me be mindful that what is worthwhile can be won when I persist. Help me hold firm in my faith. Help me believe in my ability to act well and wisely. Amen.

--Penny Nash


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84 comments on “Joan of Arc vs. Lancelot Andrewes”

  1. George Bernard Shaw (in his preface to Saint Joan - almost longer than the play) said that Joan was really the first Protestant saint, so firmly did she hold to her personal vision against the hierarchy of the Church. Brava Jehanne!

  2. This site is just way cool! I anticipate learning a lot!! I've shared it with my Rector, Lowell Grisham, and he'll be enlightening our Parish today! BTW, he'd be an awesome star-studded blogger!!!

  3. What brilliance! I've admired Joan of Arc for ages but never knew of Lancelot Andrewes. Hard pressed to choose between them. Hmmm. Words or swords? A strong woman or a prayerful punning man? Tough call!

  4. Wow, this is difficult! I came into this match-up with my money on JoA, but after reading about Andrewes, I'm torn...

  5. I'm voting for Jeanne. It's a tough decision since those Elizabethans are so grand. But I played Jeanne in a French club production of Anouilh's L'Allouette in 1964 where I fell in love with my husband who played Charles. I had a terrible sprained ankle, but wrapped up tight with boots on, wielded my sword with great courage and love!

  6. Any ideas on how to stuff the ballot box for Lancelot Andrewes? This safety device surely can't be that secure.

  7. As a quirky-preacher-turned-loonie-blogger, I am really torn: prolific writer vs. martyr who heard voices. I have had a weakness for young visionaries since childhood, but also a suspicion of the Catholic pathway to sainthood offered up to women: virgin martyrdom. On the other hand, I have both admiration for what it takes to keep showing up for work and weariness for ordination as the pathway to sainthood for men. I guess Barbara Harris won't show up in the bracket, as she is still alive... Talk among yourselves. I am still listening before I cast my vote.

      1. Meredith,
        To roughly quote GBS, if Joan really had been hearing voices, wouldn't they have been in English?

    1. Okay, I knew the smart money was on Joan. But having striven for this sainthood business for over almost six decades, I went for the one who could be a saint all the way to old age. Plus, it's all about what happens next. And Lance was the clear winner in the "These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" department.

  8. Joan memorialized in music by another Frenchman, Arthur Honneger--wonderful work and than a visit to Rouen and the spot where she was executed--than a visit to the cathedral--feel a connection and find her courage and her love of God an inspiration.

    1. Alec, I too love Honegger's "Joan of Arc at the Stake" ("Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher"). One quibble: Honegger was Swiss, not French, though he pursued much of his career in Paris. His satirical treatment of Joan's trial in the oratorio clearly reflects a dim view of the late-medieval church hierarchy.

    2. I love Lancelot's prayers. Joan has gotten so much attention through the ages. I'm voting for my buddy Lance.

  9. Joan's life had God stamped all over it! How many of us can say we were raised by peasants and by age 13 had visual imagery which would prompt the priests in our parish to purse us to assist in our upcoming election. Think about it, no really, think about it! What a nova she was. A young women in a man's world, raised without priviledge and seeking out her convictions all the way to her time in the slammer to being executed. Unbelievable!

  10. Think of all the plays, books, movies, etc about Joan. And then think about the plays, books, movies, etc about Lance. Hers is a compelling story. (Although Andrewes was a giant figure in his day and in Anglican history. Too bad his sermons didn't stand the test of time the way the King James Bible did.) This is a great matchup.

  11. To put in a plug for the lesser known Lancelot Andrewes:

    Lancelot Andrewes wrote this as part of a daily prayer:

    Remember what my substance is,
    dust and ashes,
    grass and a flower,
    flesh and a wind that passeth away,
    corruption and the worm.
    As a stranger and a sojourner upon earth,
    inhabiting a house of clay,
    whose days are few and evil,
    today and not tomorrow,
    at morning and not till evening,
    now and not by and by,
    in a body of death,
    in a world of corruption,
    that lieth in wickedness.
    Remember this, O Lord.
    (Private Devotions;

    What moves me here is the idea that I am grass AND a flower--humble and dull and fragile and showy. I am also moved by the line "As a stranger and a sojourner upon earth"--to work all my days to strive against the sin in my nature, from the venial to the great. And in saying this, I imagine him remembering the frailty and necessity of working to do God's will when our bodies and our world wants to lead us astray; the last line reminds him that for all his remembering to renounce his pride, he depends on the mercy of the Lord. God's present grace is what we come to at the end of the prayer.

  12. Love it that Penny wins today no matter what. Lancelot sounds smart, erudite, compelling. However, I think Joan had a miserable young life and being burned at the stake deserves a vote.

  13. If Joan of Arc beats Lancelot Andrewes, I'll - why, I'll -- okay, I don't know what I'll do, but it won't be pretty.

  14. My vote is for Joan because she bucked the male establishment by proving not only to be a visionary and missionary of God, but also an amazing military tactician at the age of 17. To trust in your faith and your inituition the way that she did at 17 is astounding.

    1. Joan witnessed to the direct experience of the divine with no mediation of church, priest, or document. Lancelot loosened the grip of the papal hierarchy by offering the Word in the vernacular, but the idolization of the Bible has in itself become a distraction from the personal experience--and I might add it reified male authority, which Joan, too, battled. Interestingly, she is paired with a man named Lancelot when it is Joan who is the figure of Arthurian legends, pulling the sword from the stone, liberating France...Jeanne of the Arc, of the covenant, of the grail. She gets my vote every time.

  15. Vote for Lancelot Andrews!

    His work is foundational to modern Anglicanism -- we are not a purely Reformed/Puritan church or a Roman church but a church that combines the best of pre-Reformation catholicism and the best of the Reformers. He was a strong supporter of the Real Presence in the Eucharist while understanding that Christians could validly have different opinions on what that meant. He was also one of the scholars who helped translate the Authorized/King James version of the Bible.

    There's no choice between an Roman Catholic French peasant and one of the great Anglican scholars who significantly formed who all of us are as Episcopalians!!

  16. Somehow I just can not see God telling people to go and kill others. Yes, I know the Old Testament is full of it, but I think that is in the minds of men, not God, at least as I understand the Gospel. So for me it is a no for Joan.

    1. Joan is said to never have killed. She merely led the troops into battle. In fact she did not eat flesh, only bread and a little wine. But her real work was not on the battlefield but in the court. There a 17-year old girl stood down the Catholic church. Read her testimony, it's available, and prepare to be moved and startled by her wit, her power, and her faith. If Christ has a counterpart, it may be Joan. What other saint was killed by the Church itself?

  17. Seeding seems to be common in the first round brackets; but we start with two who might have been strong contenders for the Golden Halo and one will soon be out of the running. That said, my vote is for Lance who was central to the formation of so much Anglican Spirituality.
    Go Lancelot!

  18. Come on folks, where is your loyalty to the man who helped give us the King James Bible? I think there should be some credit given to a saintly scholar who didn't have the opportunity to die the way his competition did. It was harder, I think, to live out the many years Lancelot did as a faithful bishop and a man of prayer. His competition went out in a blaze of glory. Think of glowing embers when you think of Lancelot Andrewes. He gives off a steady warmth to the ages who have followed him.

  19. When you have seen the ugliest Church in history destroying the center of Rouen and it's named for a certain Saint, I couldn't bear to think of the LM crown being sent there for a year.

  20. Ooh, this was a tough choice... I admire Jeanne's courage and faith, but in the end I have to think that the KJV trumps a French military victory. Bp Andrewes it is!

  21. I haven't seen the Cburch in question but judging from pictures online its saving grace is the reuse of the glass salvaged from the bombing of St. Vincent's.

    Go Lancelot!

    1. Check out Joan's words and you may change your mind. An unschooled peasant girl spoke with a force and beauty and faith that has inspired hundreds of artists and writers with her eloquence.