What's In A Name: Joan of Arc


Galileo, sire of Curragh winner Joan of Arc | Emma Berry


Racing success makes the name of a horse just right in most cases, and this is likely to happen with very promising 3-year-old filly JOAN OF ARC, a winner at The Curragh Mar. 21, the first day of spring. Still, this beautiful name seems so appropriate even now, because of the underlying historical connection between the French heroine Joan of Arc and the great scientist Galileo Galilei. In fact, both Joan of Arc and Galileo got in trouble with the Inquisition–to put it mildly. It was, and it was not, the very same Catholic Inquisition. There is a time difference of almost exactly two centuries. Joan, prisoner of the English, had to face the Church court of the Bishop of Beauvais (1431), while Galileo was summoned and tried by an inquisitory tribunal in Rome, with the Pope almost looking on (1633). Both were accused of heresy and of contradicting the Scriptures. Joan was charged because of her testimony of hearing the voices of Saints and wearing men soldiers' clothes, while Galileo's crime was to have declared that the earth moves around the sun, and not the other way around. Both had moments of weakness in the face of unfair clerical persecution, and retreated for a while, but not for long. They were found guilty. Joan, at 19 years of age, faced the harsher fate and was burned at the stake, while Galileo was put to house arrests until his death. They were colossal figures. Joan practically won the 100 Years' War for the French and liberated her country. Galileo is the father of modern physics and astronomy. The very last words of “Saint Joan,” George Bernard Shaw's play about Joan of Arc, seem a fitting tribute to both: “O God that made this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to accept thy saints? How long, O lord, how long?”

3rd-Curragh, €12,000, Mdn, 3-21, 3yo/up, f, 7fT, 1:33.26, s/h. JOAN OF ARC (IRE) (f, 3, Galileo {Ire}–You'resothrilling {GSW-Eng, GSW-Ire, $219,415}, by Storm Cat) Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $11,747. O-Derrick Smith, Mrs John Magnier & Michael Tabor; B-Coolmore (IRE); T-Aidan O'Brien.

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