Joan of Arc: I was born to do this?

I am not afraid; I was born to do this.

Attr. St. Joan of Arc

I have no idea what authentic St. Joan sounds like, but I do know what 20th/21st Century motivational speakers sound like, and they sound like this. That doesn’t mean St. Joan didn’t say it (she was illiterate and didn’t write anything), but it makes me wonder how far back the trail of attribution goes.

Wikiquote gives it on her page … with a citation from a 2009 book, which does not itself provide a source. That’s not a real source! On to Google.

And, to my great surprise, here’s Google with an answer, from a Joan of Arc blog:

The actual words that Joan spoke from which this quote was derived were: “I do not fear the soldiers, for my road is made open to me; and if the soldiers come, I have God, my Lord, who will know how to clear the route that leads to messire the Dauphin. It was for this that I was born!”

That gave me something to work with, leading me first to a French version of the saying: “Je n’ai pas peur des soldats, car ma route m’ a été ouverte, et si les soldats viennent, j’ai Dieu, mon Seigneur, qui saura comment libérer la route qui mène à Sieur le Dauphin. C’est pour cela que je fus nais.” It also eventually led me to a 1909 book, giving the English quotation in much the above form and giving a reference to her Trial, vol. ii, p. 449. The full name of Trial is Procès de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d’Arc, and I was able to find all the volumes both at Google and at the Internet Archive. Unfortunately, the alleged quotation doesn’t appear on p. 449 of vol. ii., and text searches for words from the French version of the saying didn’t find anything. The saying is indeed there, in Latin (thanks to a commenter for pointing this out): “[Q]uae respondebat quod non timebat armatos, quia habebat viam suam expeditam; quia, si armati essent per viam, habebat Deum, dominum suum, qui sibi faceret viam ad eundum juxta dominum Dalphinum, et quod erat nata ad hoc faciendum.” (She answered that she did not fear soldiers, for her way had been prepared; because, if there did happen to be soldiers along the way, she had God, her Lord, who would make a way for her to go to the lord Dauphin, and that she had been born to do this.)

I still think it’s very likely authentic in the extended form given above, and will leave it at that.

I have edited the entry at Wikiquote to correct the error.

St. Augustine: Past, present, future

Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence.

Attr. St. Augustine

It doesn’t sound like St. Augustine to me, but I’ve been wrong before, so ….

  1. General Google search = lots of hits but nothing with a citation.
  2. It’s not on his Wikiquote page nor on the discussion page.
  3. Google Books found a book with a citation! However, a citation to City of God with no book/chapter etc. isn’t very precise. I filed this away to check later and looked at the rest of results. I found it as far back as 1949, given as a well-known dictum from St. Augustine.
  4. So is it in City of God?

I used the Schaff text of City of God from CCEL and looked for the words past (occurs 86 times), future (123 times; he spends a lot of time on God’s ability to know the future), mercy (111 times), and providence (46 times). I didn’t look for present because it occurs 368 times. I am fairly confident that the alleged quotation doesn’t occur in this version of City of God, and since I’d think at least some of those words would show up even if the translation were different, I’m only slightly less confident that it doesn’t appear in any version of City of God.

Does it occur somewhere else in St. Augustine’s work? The invaluable St. Augustine website has all his works in Latin and a search engine (albeit one with an Italian user interface). I searched for providentia (providence), and the search engine is kind enough to find all the inflected forms as well. I chose that word because it really has only one Latin equivalent, whereas the others have several options. I got 144 hits, none of which are the quotation in question.

Taking a not-entirely wild guess at other possible words in the quotation, I used praeterita (past things), futura (future things) and misericordia (mercy). No dice. 

I searched for Augustine past present future providence with no results, thereby ruling out a considerable portion of St. Augustine’s works.

I’m always happier when I can find the point at which a fauxtation came into being, but if St. Augustine did ever say this, it’s doing a great job of hiding from me.