May 30: St. Joan of Arc — Nameday Ideas

From My Nameday — Come for Dessert by Helen McLoughlin, Copyright 1962. Online text here at EWTN.

Program for a Nameday — St. Joan of Arc, May 30

Before dealing with specific saints and offering suggestions for the celebration of their individual feastdays, we would like to describe how we keep the feast of St. Joan of Arc in honor of our Joanie’s nameday. This will perhaps give you some ideas as to how to adapt different practices for your own nameday observances.

To keep the nameday of St. Joan of Arc [feast, May 30], we begin on the eve of the feast. The children are busy making symbols for decorations and writing verses from her Mass on place-cards. Because St. Joan has a number of attributes, we select a different one each year and so have opportunity to vary the decorations. One year it is the fleur-de-lis which she bore on her banner as she went into battle; another year it is fire to commemorate her death at a burning stake. Then again it might be her motto, “Jesus, Maria,” which we use to decorate place-mats, napkins, and even the cake.

Children love repetition and ceremonial. Nothing touches a child’s heart quite so deeply as a fitting celebration of the feast of the saint whose name he bears. This need not be a costly affair. You may be able to do no more than attend holy Mass on the feast, pray the Collect of the day, and have a nameday cake. From these simple delights a child learns to love and imitate his or her patron.

Our Joanie bears the Irish form of her name — Síobhan (pronounced she-vawn), which means “white spirit.” For one nameday we found place-mats and napkins decorated with white doves. For a centerpiece we used a piñata, a Mexican pottery basket covered with papier-maché to resemble a dove, the symbol of Síobhan. A baptismal candle with symbolic designs on it heightened the significance of the nameday party.

Our special nameday punch was called “Licking Punch” by the children when they were small. To six small bottles of 7-Up, a pint of sherbet (raspberry is best) is added. The punch is stirred and served before the sherbet melts. A mixing bowl can be used instead of a punch bowl, or the punch can be poured from a chilled pitcher.

We have a mold with a fleur-de-lis design (from MS, see Abbreviations) which we use for the feast of St. Joan of Arc, for French saints, and for feasts of Our Lady. Tin-lined, the mold can be used to bake a small cake to top a larger one, or to make frozen desserts.

A crown made of gold paper is used for a saint’s day version of “pin the tail on the donkey.” Blindfolded, the children try to pin St. Joan’s crown on her head in a print of the saint. The one who comes closest wins a prize.

A special Irish dance, for which the prize in Ireland was a cake garlanded with flowers, is popularly supposed to have given rise to the saying “take the cake,” in the sense of beating out all comers. Since dancing contests are not feasible in a city apartment, we devised a quieter contest. Our children and their friends compete by singing to decide who will “take the cake.”

Fire is another symbol that children love. We float tiny flames on salad oil in a platter bearing a statue of the saint. Called Halo Wicks, these tiny wicks in cork bases can be bought (from MS, see Abbreviations). The pinata swings from the ceiling, and each child is blindfolded and given a chance to strike it with a stick in the hope that the favors and gifts for the nameday guests will come tumbling down when the dove is broken. A pinata may be ordered from FL (see Abbreviations).

The Collect (Opening Prayer) from the missal is said as a prayer with the grace before dessert. The children sing “Happy Nameday to You” as the nameday cake, topped by a symbol and lighted candle, is brought to the table. Here are the prayers we say for St. Joan’s feast:

Father: Alleluia, alleluia. You have played a man’s part and kept your courage high.

The Lord gave you firmness of resolve and your name shall be ever blessed, alleluia (Jud. 15:11).

All: Pray for us, St. Joan, holy woman that you are, and the Lord’s true worshipper, alleluia.

Father: What though I walk with the shadow of death all around me?

All: I will not be afraid of any harm, for You are with me, Lord Jesus.

Father: Let us pray. O God, who in a marvelous manner inspired Joan the maid to defend her faith and her country, grant at her intercession that Your Church may vanquish all her enemies and enjoy abiding peace. Through Christ, our Lord.

All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

AIn Liturgical Piety (Notre Dame University Press), Father Louis Bouyer gives a pattern of praising God that is suitable for nameday prayers. It consists of a psalm, a Collect, and a brief pause for the personal needs of the nameday child. (St. Benedict warns that personal prayers should be short in order to bring the mind to God and not leave it exposed to the danger of idle thoughts.)

Father: Praise the Lord in His sanctuary,
praise Him for His firmament of strength.

All: Praise Him for His mighty deeds,
praise Him for His sovereign majesty.

Father: Praise Him with the blast of trumpet,
praise Him with lyre and harp.

All: Praise Him with timbrel and dance,
praise Him with strings and pipe.

Father: Praise Him with sounding cymbals,
praise Him with clanging cymbals.

All: Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Father: Let us pray. O Lord, You are the loveliest melody of our choir. You have commanded that the songs of our heart should be rendered now by wind instruments, now by strings: grant that while we are singing with spiritual desire, we may be admitted among the everlasting choirs and praise You together with all Your saints.

All: Amen.

A personal prayer for the nameday child is said aloud if he or she is small; for an older child the prayer may be mental. To this is added the prayer to the nameday child’s patron saint. Some of these specific prayers are given throughout this book; others will be found in the “Common” for bishops, popes, martyrs, bishop-martyrs, virgins, virgin-martyrs, and confessors [Note: The revised sacramentary has Commons for Martyrs, Pastors, Doctors of the Church, Virgins and Holy Men and Women]. When no prayer can be found, the following may be said:

Father: Let us pray. Dear heavenly patron, whose name N. . . . is proud to bear, always pray to God for him (her) Confirm him (her), in the faith. Strengthen him (her) in virtue. Defend him (her) in the fight that he (she) may deserve to conquer the malignant foe and obtain eternal glory.

All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

Girls who keep this feastday are Joan; Jeanne, Jehanne, and Jeannette (French); Juanita and Nita (Spanish); Johanne and Hanne (German); Giovanna, from which Yvonne is derived (Italian); Jovanna (Portuguese); Ivanne (Russian); Jenny and Jesse (Scottish); and Siobhan (Irish).

St. Joan of Arc’s shield, which a child may make for her home shrine or family altar, has a white field, gold fleur-de-lis, and the words, “Jesus, Mary.” The fleur-de-lis, emblem of the kings of France, may be cut from gold paper or foil. The arrow which pierced our saint’s breast and thigh in the two battles which she led is also suggested as a symbol.

The nameday dessert might appropriately be the lamb cake (see Lamb Cake recipe and Activity) decorated with the fleur-de-lis or with the motto from her shield. To accomplish this we suggest Cake-Mate, a gel that writes like a pencil on frosting (available in supermarkets or from MS, see Abbreviations); or you may use gummed letters available at most stationery stores. The flambé dessert (see Cherries Jubliee recipe) could also be used, or the crown cake given below.

We found a picture of St. Joan of Arc in a back issue of Realité, a French magazine. Later, after the picture had been punctured by pinholes in a game of “pin the symbol on the saint,” we found a ceramic wall decoration of St. Joan by Oudin imported from France for $20.00 (from CCA, see Abbreviations); this is an object of art as well as devotion. A miniature figure (not a statue) of Joan of Arc, a charming nameday gift, comes from RC (see Abbreviations).

The Little Art Shop (LAS, see Abbreviations) carries Roualt’s Joan of Arc, a reproduction of modern art, and medals by Fernand Py [Note: Py's medals are available from this website.] CCA has a handsome statue which is fairly costly but a treasure to last a lifetime. Bastien LePage’s Joan of Arc can be obtained from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA, see Abbreviations). [NOTE: A great website with an Index of Joan of Arc Pictures and Images.]

Crown Cake
3 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup shortening or butter
1/2-3/4 cup milk*
3/4 teaspoon orange extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
*With vegetable shortening use 3/4 cup of milk; with butter or margarine, use 1/2 cup of milk.

Measure into a sifter 3 cups of sifted cake flour, 2 teaspoons of double-acting baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 3/4 cups of sugar.

Measure into a mixing bowl 1 cup of shortening. Measure into a cup the milk, which will vary according to the shortening. To it add 3/4 teaspoon of orange extract and 3/4 teaspoon of almond extract. Have ready 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk unbeaten.

Mix by hand or with an electric mixer. Count only the actual beating time or strokes. Scrape the bowl and beaters or spoon often. Stir the shortening just to soften. Sift in the dry ingredients. Add milk and mix until all the flour is dampened. Then beat for 2 minutes at low speed with your mixer, or 300 vigorous strokes by hand. Add the eggs and 1 yolk and beat 1 minute longer with the mixer or 150 strokes by hand.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased and floured 9-inch tube pan. Bake in a moderate oven (375°) for 1 hour or until done. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then loosen from the sides of the pan with a spatula or knife. Turn right side up on a cake rack to cool before frosting. Place the cooled cake on a large plate with the wide base upright.

MAKING A CROWNTo make a crown, cut 2 strips of thin cardboard about 20 inches long and 7/8 inch wide. We use yellow cardboard. Bend each strip downward in the middle. Around the sides of the cake cut 4 narrow slits, equidistant from each other and about 11/2 inches up from the base. Place 1 strip of cardboard across the cake, bend the ends securely inward, and insert the ends in the slits in the opposite side of the cake to fasten securely. Place the second strip at right angles to the first, and insert the ends in the cake in the same manner. If necessary, tie the strips together in the center with a fine thread. Cut a circle from cardboard and place over the center hole in the top of the cake. Make a seven-minute frosting (see recipe), using 2 egg whites. Spread over the top of the cake and down the sides to within 1 1/2 inches from the bottom.

Make a half recipe of seven-minute frosting (see recipe), using 1 egg white and beating only 4 minutes. Tint with a few drops of yellow food coloring. Use this yellow frosting to cover the upper and underside of the cardboard strips and to frost around the base. Reserve a small amount for decorations. At the base, bring the yellow frosting up in the form of triangles, making 3 triangles in each of the four sections formed by the cardboard strips. Have the center triangle in each section extend to the top of the cake. Outline the edges of the cardboard strips and the triangles with silver dragées. Place a square, clear, bright-colored candy (we use Charms) on each triangle and at the base of the cardboard strips to resemble jewels. Then place a silver dragée at the four corners of every candy. Place 4 more candies on each cardboard strip.

For the center of the crown use a flat red lollypop which has been removed from its stick. Make a Maltese cross on each flat side with some of the reserved yellow frosting and decorate with pieces of silver dragées. With a small amount of frosting, fasten 2 long silver dragées to the side edges of the lollypop and a large dragée at the top to resemble pearls. Then fasten the lollypop to the intersection of the cardboard strips with more frosting.

Sprinkle shredded coconut over the white frosted areas of and around the base of the cake. Scatter chocolate chips in coconut at the base at 2-inch intervals to resemble ermine.

The Crown Cake requires a good deal of time. If a mother is in a hurry, it is better to make a crown cake by adding a gold-paper crown to an ordinary store cake, or to bake a cake mix and add a crown of gumdrops. A little child will enjoy these too.
CROSS CAKE
The Crown Cake recipe on may be doubled for a Cross Cake. The  Seven-Minute Frosting is used on it.

Seven-Minute Frosting 
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 Tablespoons cold water 
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 1/4 vanilla extract

Place in the top of a double boiler and beat until thoroughly blended 2 egg whites, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of light corn syrup. Put these ingredients over rapidly boiling water. Beat constantly with a rotary beater or with a wire whisk for 7 minutes. Remove the icing from the fire. Add 1 1/4 teaspoons of vanilla and continue beating until the frosting is of the right consistency to spread. 

Kugelhupf or Kugelhopf

For this traditional German nameday cake you will need:

For Cake:
1/2 cup milk, scalded
1 package active or cake yeast
warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups flour (divided into 1 1/2 and 1 1/4)
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine, cooled
1/2 cup chopped raisins
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind 

For Pan:
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs or finely ground almonds
15-16 blanched almonds
Confectioners’ Sugar 

Pour into a mixing bowl 1/2 cup of scalded milk and cool until warm.

While the milk cools, sprinkle 1 package of active or 1 cake of compressed dry yeast into some warm water in a cup. (Crumble compressed yeast into lukewarm water.) Stir until dissolved. To the milk in the bowl add 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 1/2 cups of sifted flour. Mix well. Add the dissolved yeast and beat until smooth. Add 2 eggs and beat thoroughly. If you prefer, beat the eggs first in a separate bowl. Add 1/4 cup of melted and cooled butter or margarine. Stir in 1 1/4 cups more of flour. Then beat the batter for about 5 minutes (an electric mixer set at a moderate speed is good for this).

With a rubber scraper scrape the batter down from the side of the bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

While the batter rises, prepare the baking pan. Use either a Kugelhupf mold (from MS, see Abbreviations) or two one-pint molds, or a 7-inch angel food cake pan. Rub the inside of the pan generously with 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine. Then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of fine bread crumbs or finely ground almonds into the pan. Shake it to coat the whole inside of the pan with crumbs. Arrange 15 or 16 almonds in a design in the bottom of the pan.

When the batter has doubled, stir it down. Mix in 1/2 cup of chopped raisins and 1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind. Carefully spoon the batter on top of the almonds so as not to spoil your design. When all the batter is in the pan, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 1/4 hours). Bake in a moderate oven (350°) for 45 to 50 minutes. Look at the cake after it has baked for 15 minutes; if it is turning brown, lay a piece of clean brown wrapping paper over the top for the rest of the baking period. This is a rich batter and browns easily.

When done, turn out of the pan onto a wire cake rack. If you wish, dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar. To make a design on the top of the cake, lay a scalloped lace doily on the cake and sift confectioner’s sugar over it. Lift the doily carefully and pour the extra sugar back into the container.

LAMB CAKE

The lamb cake is particularly appropriate on St. John’s day, June 24, since the lamb is the special mark of St. John the Baptist; it is also the symbol for St. Agnes and for all the saints who were shepherds such as Genevieve, Germaine, Patrick, David, Joan of Arc, and Bernadette. It may be used also for patron saints who were bishops because of our Lord’s words: “Feed my lambs.”

To make a lamb cake you will need a lamb mold (about $1.98 from MS, see Abbreviations), plus the following:
four-minute frosting (see recipe)
instant white cake mix
flaked coconut

Empty 1 package of instant white cake mix into a bowl. Prepare according to directions on package.

Spoon 1 cup of the batter into three greased and floured custard cups, filling them half full. Pour the remaining batter into the front half of a well greased and floured lamb mold. (Before covering with the back of the mold, we place a toothpick in each ear so that it will not burn and will be stronger for frosting.) Cover with the back of the mold and wire the mold together. Place the mold face down on a baking sheet. Place custard cups on the same baking sheet. Bake in a moderate oven (350°), baking the cupcakes 20 to 25 minutes, and the lamb mold 40 to 45 minutes.

Open the mold, removing the back of the mold first. Allow the lamb to cool in the mold for about 5 minutes. Then loosen the cake from the sides of the mold and remove carefully. Stand the lamb cake on the cake-rack until cool. We have found that even if a lamb does not come out in one piece, the parts may be held together very easily with frosting.

Frost the cake with four-minute frosting. Cover with coconut, reserving some to be tinted green and arranged around the mold to represent grass. Use raisins for eyes and nose, and a slice of maraschino cherry for the mouth.

FOUR-MINUTE FROSTING
egg white
sugar
salt
water
corn syrup
vanilla

Combine in the top of a double boiler 1 unbeaten egg white, 3/4 cup of sugar, a dash of salt, 3 tablespoons of water, and 1 teaspoon of light corn syrup. Beat about 1 minute or until thoroughly mixed. Cook over boiling water, beating constantly with egg beater, or at high speed with electric beater for 4 minutes, or until the frosting will stand in peaks. Stir the frosting up from the bottom and sides of the pan occasionally with a rubber scraper, spatula or spoon. Remove from boiling water. Add vanilla and beat 1 minute, or until thick enough to spread.

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