Joan of Arc
Jehanne Darc, Jeanneton Darc, Jeanne d’Arc,
Saint (Jeanne d’Arc, Joan of Lorraine), the Maid of Orleans
(January 6, 1412, Domremy, France – May 30, 1431, Rouen, France) (aged 19)
Category: Votaries оf Spirit
Unique distinction: Patron Saint and national heroine of France, female military leader.
1. Act, and God will act.
2. I was in my thirteenth year when I heard a voice from God to help me govern my conduct. And the first time I was very much afraid.
3. If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.
4. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.
5. I am not afraid…I was born to do this.
6. Courage! Do not fall back.
7. Hold the cross high so I may see it through the flames!
Achievements and contributions:
The main contribution to (what is known): Jehanne Darc is a semi-legendary figure, considered one of history’s greatest saints, and an enduring symbol of French unity and nationalism.
Her successful military leadership provided spirit, morale and religious inspiration more than military abilities.
“In the excitement which raised her up from earth to heaven, she retained her solid common sense and a clear sense of reality.”
Pronounced innocent: 1456
Beatified: 18 April 1909, Notre Dame de Paris by Pope Pius X
Canonized: She was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint on May 16, 1920, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome by Pope Benedict XV
Feast Day: 30 May.
Major works: Jehanne Darc led the French army to victory over the British during the Hundred Years’ War. She is the patron saint of France.
Career and personal life:
Education: Joan never learned to read or write, and received her sole religious instruction from her mother.
With her inspiring conviction, she rallied the French troops and raised the English siege of Orléans in May 1429.
French success here and at the battle of Patay on 18 June 1429 led to Charles’s coronation at Rheims on 17 July, serious blows to English power in France. During Charles’s coronation, Joan stood near him and it was the pinnacle of her fortunes.
Once crowned Charles soon distanced himself from her, afraid of the charge that he had gained his throne by diabolical means.
She overreached herself in a failed attack on Paris and was subsequently captured by the Burgundians who sold her to the English.
In order to escape responsibility, the English turned her over to the French clerics who supported the English. Charles VII made no attempt to secure her freedom.
She still claimed to have heard God speak to her in voices. Throughout the lengthy trial and imprisonment, she bravely fought her inquisitors The claims eventually led to her trial for heresy and her execution by burning at the stake.
She initially admitted her fault, but then relapsed and was burned at Rouen on 31 May 1431.
Joan never learned to read or write and received her sole religious instruction from her mother, who taught her to recite the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, and Credo. It is possible that Jeanne was strongly influenced by the story of Biblical heroine Judith, a beautiful Jewish girl, who saved her people. Several local raids of English troops occurred during her childhood and on one occasion her village was burned.
In her childhood, she was noted for her abnormally sensitive nervous temperament. She grew to womanhood she became inclined to silence and spent much of her time in solitude and prayer.
Inspiration: Sometime in 1425 Joan began to have visions – “When I was thirteen, I had a voice from God to help me govern myself.”
Once she heard a voice very clearly. She recalled: The voice was that of St. Michael, who, with St. Catherine and St. Margaret, “told me of the pitiful state of France, and told me that I must go to succour the King of France.”
When she was about 16, her voice began persistently urging her to aid France’s Dauphin (crown prince) and save France from the English attempt at conquest in the Hundred Years’ War. She followed the call and accomplished her mission. Two years, filled with feats and victories turned her life into a beautiful legend and brought her world fame.
A contemporary described her: “This Maid … has a virile bearing, speaks little, shows admirable prudence in all her words. She has a pretty, woman’s voice, eats little, drinks very little wine; she enjoys riding a horse and takes pleasure in fine arms, greatly likes the company of noble fighting men, detests numerous assemblies and meetings, readily sheds copious tears, has a cheerful face…” Her armour was said to be white.
She was captured in 1430 and the next year burned at the stake in the Rouen marketplace.
She was nineteen years old.
Zest: The French civic holiday in her honour is the second Sunday of May.