Joan of Arc vs. Catherine Booth

Welcome to the highly anticipated matchup between the Wednesday Warrior Women! Today Joan of Arc, the young soldier/saint, faces Catherine Booth, preacher and driving force behind the formation of the Salvation Army. See...warriors.

Yesterday, in a hotly contested matchup -- the closest battle so far this year -- Melangell held Hermione at bay 52% to 48% to advance to the next round. This marks the first time a Saintly Sixteen battle has been finalized as Melangell will square off against Camillus de Lellis.

Please also note that at about 8:30 pm EST, the Lent Madness Voter Security Unit noticed 389 bogus votes for Hermione. These votes were removed, and the suspect addresses were blocked. This is a reminder. Do not cheat. Vote once. Get your neighbors to vote. But don’t vote several times, lest you be cast into the outer darkness of Lent Madness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Rest assured that those who perpetrate voter fraud in Lent Madness will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Law of Moses.

Joan of Arc
Jeanne la Pucelle was born in 1412 in France, in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War between England and its allies and France. When she was about thirteen years old, Joan began to have visions of saints that were so beautiful she said she wept after experiencing them. Over the years, these heavenly messengers shared with her the mission to help Charles of Valois (the king-inwaiting) claim the French throne. As a covenant of this mission from God, Joan took a vow of chastity. Her father promptly arranged a marriage for her, while Joan asserted she should remain unmarried.

As the visions continued, Joan argued with the heavenly messengers, saying she was only a poor girl who could neither ride nor fight. Saint Michael replied, “It is God who commands it.” Joan went again to meet the French leaders. During this trip, Joan began to dress in clothing traditionally worn by male soldiers. Whether this was a choice by Joan or a protective measure as her party traveled through hostile territory remains unknown, but her clothing choice would later be among the charges of heresy and witchcraft.

Joan’s message to Charles infused the war with a religious fervor, with France fighting on the side of God. Charles’s advisors investigated Joan’s faith and reported that she was a good Christian with virtues of humility, honesty, and simplicity. Court theologians suggested Charles put Joan to the test and see if she could, indeed, lead the French army to a divinely inspired victory at Orleans. In March 1429, Joan wore white armor, rode a white horse, and led French troops into battle in Orleans. France was victorious.

The French gained several victories under Joan’s leadership, but she was captured in 1430. The English put her on trial, claiming she was a heretic and witch. King Charles, seeking to save his power, distanced himself from Joan. After the trial, Joan was burned to death at the stake on May 30, 1431.

Her fame and inspiring leadership, however, continued to grow, and twenty years later, the same Charles who did nothing to save her life ordered a new trial to clear her name. On May 16, 1920, Saint Joan of Arc was canonized.

Collect for Joan of Arc
Holy God, whose power is made perfect in weakness: we honor you for the calling of Jeanne d’Arc, who, though young, rose up in valor to bear your standard for her country, and endured with grace and fortitude both victory and defeat; and we pray that we, like Jeanne, may bear witness to the truth that is in us to friends and enemies alike, and encouraged by the companionship of your saints, give ourselves bravely to the struggle for justice in our time; through Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

—Laurie Brock


Catherine Booth
The middle of the nineteenth century did not provide, by any stretch of the imagination, a fertile environment for the work of women in preaching and church leadership. Yet despite this hostile environment, Catherine Booth blazed a trail for others to follow in her role as the “Mother of the Salvation Army.”

Born in 1829 to Methodist parents in Derbyshire, England, Catherine presented from a young age a deep aptitude for leadership in the church. By age twelve, she was said to have read the Bible through—eight times. In the midst of a controversy in English Methodism in 1850, she refused to condemn a group of Methodist Reformers and was expelled with others from the larger body of English Methodists. Among this group of reformists was William Booth, who would become her husband.

The Booths became active in the work of a church in West Yorkshire. During this period, she wrote a pamphlet Female Ministry: Women’s Right to Preach the Gospel. She argued three primary points: first, that women are not inferior to men; second, that no scriptural authority exists to deny women public ministry; and that the action of the Holy Spirit had blessed and sanctified this ministry, in line with what we read in the Bible. She was eloquent, compelling, and ferocious in her defense of the right of women to preach the gospel. Her arguments won many converts—including her husband, who initially opposed her efforts.

She soon became a key partner in the ministry of The Christian Mission with her husband in London’s East End. William preached to the poor; Catherine spoke to the wealthy and gained their support for their ministry. She organized the Mission’s Food for the Million shops, where the poor could buy inexpensive meals throughout the year and oversaw Christmas distributions of meals to the needy.

In 1878, The Christian Mission became The Salvation Army. William Booth became known as the “General” and Catherine Booth as the “Mother of the Salvation Army.” She played a key role in the organization, from helping refine its beliefs to the design of the uniforms. Catherine Booth was a pioneer and a trailblazer for the public preaching and teaching ministry of women, a fact that seems all the more remarkable at the height of the Victorian age.

Collect for Catherine Booth
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Catherine, whom you called to preach the Gospel. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

—David Sibley


Joan of Arc vs. Catherine Booth

  • Catherine Booth (63%, 5,125 Votes)
  • Joan of Arc (37%, 3,002 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,127

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Joan of Arc: Archives nationales / Public domain
Catherine Booth: Unknown author / Public domain


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200 comments on “Joan of Arc vs. Catherine Booth”

  1. For her time Catherine’s view was unique:
    She thought women were entitled to speak.
    Her command of the Word
    Called the thousands who heard
    To support both the poor and the weak.

    1. Joan of Arc was not quite acquiescent
      When her dreams about war became prescient:
      She argued with angels
      And with spirits wrangled--
      Although she was an adolescent.

      1. Since I took Joan as my confirmation name, my vote had to go to her, although I'm sure that Catherine will be today's winner.

        1. Kathleen I voted for Joan for the same reason!

          When I was young, I chose her because in my mind she was an exciting saint!

    2. Preach it, Catherine! 50 years ago I briefly served in a soup kitchen in the East End of London -- during the daytime, because our school chaplain said it was too dangerous for us after dark! Imagine what it was like for her 150 years ago -- she was not deterred. And the EastEnd is the neighborhood portrayed in the marvelous TV series "Call the Midwife." Let's hear it for wonderfully assertive women who make a difference in the lives of the poor and vulnerable.

    3. John Cabot - your piems seem to pop magically and speedily from your head and heart. How do you respond so quickly to the Saints’ postings? I am in awe.

      I love your poem for Catherine. She particularly inspired me. Thank you.

      1. Wildly waving pom poms, sporting a sweater on with giant "J" , PANTS, not pleated skirt: "Yes! Yes! " I cheer. I'm totally sitting in your section in Kingdom of Heaven Stadium, JoLiz.

    1. Good reason, even tho my vote went to Joan... but think about it, Campfire Girls mints for Joan?

  2. Tough choice. My middle name is Joan, but some of my ancestors belonged to the Salvation Army.

    1. Thank you for sharing the YouTube link! We were presented two tough choices today, but the song, “Joan of Arc,” has inspired me on a day when I shall meet with our church’s social justice ministry team.

    2. Good video for Lent. Beautiful song and storytelling of her last vision til the end. Thanks for the link. Anyone who watches air will immediately cast vote for Joan.
      Sorry, Catherine no song for you, just those ringaling bells

    3. Thank you Deborah for the song link!
      Anyone brave enough to give their life gets my vote. And to face so many situations without familiarity- such as leading men experienced in war, and if course, trial and death. Bless you, young Joan!

    4. Thank you for this. I love this version with JW and LC - I first heard it on her Famous Blue Raincoat album but I had not seen this video until now. So moving and so beautifully done. Loved all the images. I saved it for further viewing! Thanks again.

  3. I thought I would end up voting for Joan of Arc, but then I read about Catherine Booth. Who knew?

    1. Oui, vive la Pucelle! The records of her trial are a true inspiration. As is Mark Twain's take on her childhood call.

  4. Well, a pox should befall the mad men who compiled this round of 32 matchup between two final four heavyweights. Was there no power seeding?! I love Joan, but had to vote for Mother Booth given my grandparents were Salvation Army officers. The Army is a model non-profit that delivers with unmatched efficiency. Poor Joan gets burned again.

    1. I agree with this. Both this women would have trounced the two matchups we had yesterday. These are two of the strongest choices we've seen in the tournament so far.

    2. I had noticed but your comment makes me all too keenly even painfully aware that there this comments thread is not equipped with the merest "thumbs up", let alone a hearty laugh emoji!

      1. . . . nor apparently can one go back and edit, to remove the odd extra word, say, such as a "there" when everybody knows that, as the poet said, "there is no there there".

  5. Without reading the bios I thought Joan of Arc of course. But learning Mother Booth's story opened me up. What a gift! Her advocacy for women in ministry was brilliant and she helped to feed millions! Go Catherine!

    1. I love Joan of Arc and France and the songs, paintings, and mythology about her. I thought I'd vote for her for sure, but I'm going with Catherine Booth. I thought Charles unworthy of Joan's efforts (even though he's not the one being judged). Catherine's work carries through the ages and has had ultimately more effect on the freedom of women to follow their hearts and their heads and to spread help and caring to the desperate and needy of the world. But it's still a tough choice!

  6. Joan d’Arc may or may not get the Golden Halo, but she already has a golden statue here in Portland where she keeps an eye on the cars passing around Coe Circle, near All Saints Parish and School.

    I appreciate the Salvation Army, but my vote today is with the French Army leader.

  7. I had to go with Joan. My undergrad college, which was originally a woman´s college, has several statues of her. I also chose her as my confirmation name. She did what she felt she was called by God to do and did not let gender norms stand in her way.

  8. Can one of these outstanding women circle back in a losers’ bracket? Tough choice to eliminate one of these fighters!

  9. This is a tough one. I'm invested in the story of Joan of Arc for what may seem a silly reason. Assassins Creed had a novel based off of Joan of Arc that followed her journey to become who she became. The presentation of that story without all the pomp and circumstance spoke to me.

    However! My mom and I read Lent Madness together every morning and when she got to the last paragraph of Catherine Booth, tears sprung to my eyes. Just for that, my vote goes to Catherine.

  10. I went to bed last night expecting to vote for Joan, but this morning I was captivated by Catherine’s insistence on the right of women to preach. Joan stands in her own tradition as a belatedly canonized but freakish exception; Catherine stands in her and our tradition in a line that has led to the full exercise of ministry by women.

  11. yes, Catherine is amazing, but Jean D'Arc has long inspired me so she's always a first choice for me

  12. I will never forget how quickly The Salvation Army responded to the people and the needs on 9.11.

  13. I came in all ready to vote for Joan, given that the current Salvation Army holds some rather troubling positions, but having read Catherine Booth's biography, as a good Christian feminist I think I need to take a little more time to reconsider. (I am not going to lay the SA's current controversies at the feet of its founder, who was clearly focused on providing basic necessities for as many people as possible.)

    1. Tully Monster, I'm with you. For me, the one who served the poor beats out the one who led armies. And you're right that we mustn't blame Catherine Booth for current Salvation Army policies.

      1. Are you related to me? Because "Grimes" is my maiden name. Weird. OK, I am also voting for Catherine Booth, despite my soft spot for Joan.

  14. I had to vote for Joan of Arc - the university where I teach has three statues of Joan, affectionately referred to as "Joanie on the Stone-y," "Joanie on the Pony," and the most recent one, for which the nickname is still settling in, is sometimes referred to as "Joanie on Her Own-y." She is a daily presence in our lives and a reminder that any one of us can make an impact through example or leadership.

  15. Once upon a time, I was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, so, of course, Catherine got my vote. I do admire Joan of Arc, however. Strong women, both.

  16. Joan was a brave young girl, who , like Mary, not only loved God , but accepted His “unbelievable” instructions. She was highly gifted and intelligent, and passionate about saving her country which was being ravished by the English. As history’s youngest leader of an army, she insisted on holy communion for all her men before battle, and cried and prayed on the battlefields over the dead on both sides. In a political move , once she was captured she was handed over to the church she so
    loved , and was condemned to death. Legend tells of a dove which flew from her breast as she was burned at the stake. Please consider a vote for Jeanne de Arc- a true saint.

  17. Catharine.Booth gets my vote. Amazingly, my children’s father was named William Booth whom the family claimed as father of the Salvation Army. Now I learn about Catharine! I feel she deserves long overdue credit, at least from my family.

  18. Though I voted for Catherine (I like practical work), Joan is a fascinating person. If you enjoy arty movies, I highly recommend The Passion of Joan of Arc, a 1928 silent film. Be sure to watch the version that is accompanied by Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light, which was inspired by the film. a magnificent piece of music in its own right.

  19. Totally surprised to learn about origins of the Salvation army.
    Wonder what she would think about its changes over time??

  20. Both Catherine and Joan are strong women, both challenging men's roles in society. However, Joan chose war. Catherine chose peace that is still going strong today. Peace over war any day.

  21. Joan since my middle name is Jean, and she is my patron saint. Also I admire Catherine but today the Salvation Army is anti LGBTQ Folks so I cannot vote for Catherine.

    1. That thought has been on my mind too, however I figure if we rule out all persons who lived in previous centuries and whose beliefs reflected the times they lived in based on the fact that their thinking did not reflect present day values, we'd have a mighty short list of candidates.

      Now if the SEC tried to nominate a person in the present day who still held to those beliefs despite persuasive arguments for more inclusive thinking, that would certainly give me cause to vote against that person. However I don't think that is the case -- as far as I know one of the fundamental requirements for a saint is that the person be dead.

      Difficult choice today!

  22. Hmmph. War. I don't get the appeal. But a woman who stood up for women being just as capable as men of preaching, and also had a heart for the cast-offs of society; that's my gal! thanks Catherine!

  23. Would have to say that there are those in the military today who would still call females dating to put on the uniform "witches and heretics." Think I will have to go with my sister in arms, Jeanne d'Arc