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French President Praises Joan of Arc

DOMREMY, France (CNS) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised his country’s patron, St. Joan of Arc, for helping “forge the national conscience.”

“For the church, Joan is a saint. For the republic, she’s the incarnation of the finest French virtues, including a patriotism that consists of loving one’s homeland without resenting others,” the president said Jan. 6 after attending Mass at Domremy to mark the 600th anniversary of her birth.

Celebrations throughout the year will include Masses, conferences and theater productions, as well as a national pilgrimage in February. In May, Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, president of the French bishops’ conference, will celebrate a jubilee Mass in Domremy.

St. Joan, a 19-year-old peasant girl, was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431 after rallying a French army against English invaders and lifting the siege of Orleans.

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