May 30

St. Joan of Arc

Saint Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc is not your regular saint. A Fearless, charismatic, energetic, and passionate young woman. Also called the maid of Orleans or Lorraine, this French heroine was a force to reckon with.

Just Ordinary

Not all princesses lived in a castle, and Joan was proof of that. Bornto a peasant tenant farmer, Jacques d’Arc, and mother Isabelle Romeefrom Domremy northeastern France, in 1412.

Jeanne d’Arc, otherwise known as Joan of Arc, had a very humblebeginning. Like most children of peasant background of that era, Joanwasn’t taught how to read and write. However, her pious mother,Isabelle, instilled a deep love for catholicism and its practice in her.

Joan was born at a time when France was battled from internal leadershipand bruised from its war with England. In due course, England hadsignificant control of northern France. Joan witnessed regular raids ofher village growing up, and in one of these raids, her village wasburnt.

A Troubled France with No Leader

In 1415, England managed to get the support of Burgundians in France.This weakened the French throne. A peace treaty was signed in 1420, andEngland was granted the French throne. Henry V of England became aregent for the mentally disturbed King Charles V1 of France.

The unexpected occurred in 1422. Both King Henry V of England andCharles V1 of France died within a couple of months, leaving the twokingdoms to an infant Henry V1 of England.

The French supporters of King Charles V1 of France saw an opportunity torestore the throne to France. Therefore, Charles V11, the son of thelate King Charles V1, was hastily anointed to the throne of France asDauphin, heir to the throne.

Although Charles V11 was on the throne, he was a figurehead at best.France was still highly influenced by the English court with the supportof the Burgundians. France was in dire need of a true leader…

Born to Lead

At the age of thirteen, Joan began to hear voices. It was said that thevoices were of st. Michael, st Catherine, and st. Margaret. Joan’sdevotion to God increased as she receives more visions.

In May 1428, the voices instructed Joan to seek an audience with theDauphin (heir to the throne). She was to help him reconquer the Frenchterritories from the English and install him as the king of France.

Her attempt to meet with the Dauphin was met with opposition andridicule. Baudricout, the garrison commander, wouldn’t let her meet theDauphin. A 16-year-old peasant girl had no place or business with thethrone. But Joan would not give up.

One year later, in 1429, Bauricout finally agreed to arrange her meetingwith Charles V11 after seeing she was gaining the villagers’ approval.

Joan cropped her hair, dressed in men’s clothing, and in the company offew soldiers, she set off on an 11-day journey to Chinon to meet withCharles. This was a necessary precaution as she was to pass throughenemy borders before her arrival to the French court.

And Young Joan Led the Battle of the Orleans

On meeting Charles, she won him over after demonstrating her uniqueability in court. She was able to recognize him dressed in disguised ina crowd of members.

Charles provided Joan with armor and let her lead the French army toOrleans, where the English held sway. Between 4th May to 7th May 1429,the French army took over Orleans. By mid-June, the English army wasutterly defeated, and the French recovered all territories held by theEnglish under the leadership of Joan of Arc.

Consequently, on 17 July 1429, Charles V11 entered Reims, formerly underEnglish rule, and was crowned king of France. Joan was at his sideduring the ceremonies.

In 1430, on King Charles’s order, Joan traveled to Compiegne, a cityunder siege of the Burgundians, the English supporters. Sadly, Joan wasthrown off her horse, and the city gates were locked against her.

The Burgundians captured Joan and sold her off to the English for 10,000francs.

The Unjust Trial

The English and French clergymen supporters accused Joan of Heresy,Witchcraft, Crossdressing, and other charges. It was a politicallymotivated trial. The trial took place in public but seeing that Joancould defend herself, the trial was moved to close doors.

Joan was found guilty by the tribunal. On May 30,1431, in a marketplaceat Rouen, Joan was burned at stake in public view of about 10,000people. Her ashes were scattered in Seine ( a French River).

She was just 19 years old.

In 1456, king Charles V11 acquitted Joan of all accusations. She wascanonized as a saint on May 16, 1920.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Joan of Arc

  1. Joan was only 17 years old when she led the battle against the
    English at Orleans. Can you beat that? That was a fearless young
  2. Who would have believed that Joan could took demoralized and
    defeated french soldiers to battle and won? But she did.
  3. Heard the saying,” Pit to Palace”? For her exemplary leadership
    and exploits, Joan gained noble status in France for herself and
    her family.
  4. She is honored as the patron of France. The reason is quite
  5. Joan’s last words as the fire was lit were, ‘ Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
    Calling on her savior. Do you trust in God even at the darkest
    moment of your life?

Prayer to St. Joan of Arc

In the face of your enemies,in the face of harassment, ridicule, and doubt, you held firm in your faith.Even in your abandonment, alone and without friends, you held firm in your faith.Even as you faced your own mortality, you held firm in your faith.I pray that I may be as boldin my beliefs as you, St. Joan.I ask that you ride alongside mehelp me be mindful that what isworthwhile can be won when I persist.Help me hold firm in my faith.Help me believe in my abilityto act well and wisely. Amen.