About St. Joan
ST. JOAN OF ARC
1412 — 1431
Feast Day May 30
Patron Saint of France, soldiers, military personnel, prisoners, those ridiculed for their piety, rape victims and martyrs.
Born in 1412, Joan of Arc (French: Jeanne d’Arc) is considered a heroine of France. A rebel and a warrior all for God's honor and glory, Joan is one of the great examples of faith, unwavering commitment and courage.
At a very early age, she was said to have heard the voices of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margaret of Antioch. At first the messages were personal and general, but when she was 13-years-old, she received visions from them, each of whom instructed her to support Charles VII and drive the English from French territory.
The uncrowned King Charles VII sent Joan to the siege of Orleans as part of a relief mission. For her safety, she cut her hair and dressed as a male soldier, which later led to charges of cross-dressing. She gained prominence after the English retreated from Orleans and the siege was lifted only nine days later. She suffered many wounds from sieges including being shot with an arrow between her neck and shoulder as well as being shot through the thigh with a bolt from a crossbow.
In 1430, she was captured by the Burgundian faction, and was sold to the English. She was kept in an iron cage, chained by the neck, hands, and feet. Joan continued to wear military armor making it difficult to be raped as there was no protection in a dress. She was put on trial by the pro-English Bishop Pierre Cauchon for a variety of charges including cross-dressing, heresy and witchcraft. After Cauchon declared her guilty, she was sentenced to death.
On the day of her execution, she was allowed to make her final confession and to receive Communion. Her demeanor at the stake was such that it moved even her bitter enemies to tears. She asked for a cross, embraced it, and held it up before her while she called continuously upon the name of Jesus. Her final request to her executioners was to "Hold the cross high that I may see it through the flames." She was tied to a tall pillar and publicly burned alive on May 30, 1431 at the age of 19.
In 1456, an inquisitorial court examined the trial, dismissed the charges against her, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.