St. Joan of Arc
Feastday: May 30th
Patron of: soldiers, France, battles of every kind
On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class in the obscure village
of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she was said to have heard the voices of
saints. At first the messages were personal and general, but when she was 13-years-old, she was in her father's
garden and had visions of Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret, each of whom told her to drive
the English from French territory. They also asked that she bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation.
When she was sixteen-years-old, she asked her relative, Durand Lassois, to take her to Vaucouleurs, where
she petitioned Robert de Baudricourt, the garrison commander, for permission to visit the French Royal
Court in Chinon.
Despite Baudricourt's sarcastic response to her request, Joan returned the following January and left with the
support of two of Baudricourt's soldiers: Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy.
Jean de Metz admitted Joan had confided in him, saying, "I must be at the King's side ... there will be no help
if not from me. Although I would rather have remained spinning [wool] at my mother's side ... yet must I go
and must I do this thing, for my Lord wills that I do so."
With Metz and Poulengy at her side, Joan met Baudricourt and predicted a military reversal at the Battle of
Rouvray near Orléans, which were confirmed several days later by a messenger's report. When Baudricourt
realized the distance of the battle's location and the time it would have taken Joan to make the journey, he
concluded she had seen the reversal by Divine revelation, which caused him to believe her words.
Once she had Baudricourt's belief, Joan was granted an escort to Chinon through hostile Burgundian
territory. For her safety, she was escorted while dressed as a male soldier.
With a donated horse, sword, banner, armor, and more, Joan arrived to Orléans and quickly turned the
Anglo-French conflict into a religious war.
Charles' advisors worried Joan's claims of doing God's work could be twisted by his enemies, who could
easily claim she was a sorceress, which would link his crown to works of the devil. To prevent accusations,
the Dauphin ordered background inquiries and a theological exam at Poitiers to verify Joan's claims.
They suggested her test should be a test of her claim to lift the siege of Orléans, as she originally predicted
In response to the test, Joan arrived at Orléans on April 29, 1429, where Jean d'Orléans, the acting head of
the ducal family of Orléans, ensured she was excluded from war councils and kept ignorant of battles.
During the five months prior to Joan's arrival to Orléans, the French had only attempted one offensive
assault, which resulted in their defeat, but after her arrival, things began to change.
Though Joan claimed the army was always commanded by a nobleman and that she never killed anyone in
battle since she preferred only to carry her banner, which she preferred "forty times" better than a sword,
several noblemen claimed she greatly effected their decisions since they accepted she gave Divinely inspired advice.
On May 4, the Armagnacs captured the fortress of Saint Loup and the next day led to fortress Saint-Jean-le-Blanc, which was deserted.
Joan was shot with an arrow between her neck and shoulder as she held her banner outside Les Tourelles, but returned to encourage the final assault to take the fortress. The next day, the English retreated from Orléans and the siege was over.
After the Orléans victory, Joan was able to persuade Charles VII to allow her to march into other battles to reclaim cities, each of which ended in victory.
Joan was present at the following battles and suffered a leg wound from a crossbow bolt. Despite one failed mission - taking La-Charité-sur-Loire" - Joan and her family were ennobled by Charles VII in reward of her actions on the battlefield.
A truce with England came following Joan's ennoblement but was quickly broken. When Joan traveled to Compičgne to help defend against an English and Burgundian siege, she was captured by Burgundian troops and held for a ransom of 10,000 livres tournois. There were several attempts to free her and Joan made many excape attempts, including jumping from her 70-foot (21m) tower, landing on the soft earth of a dry moat, but to no avail. She was eventually sold to the English for 10,000 gold coins and was then tried as a heretic and witch in a trial that violated the legal process of the time.
Joan was held in a secular prison guarded by English soldiers, instead of being in an ecclesiastical prison with nuns as her guards per Inquisitorial guidelines. While imprisoned, Joan wore military clothing so she could tie her clothing together, making it harder to be raped. There was no protection in a dress, and a few days after she started wearing one she told a tribunal member that "a great English lord had entered her prison and tried to take her by force." Following the attempted rape, Joan returned to wearing male clothing as a precaution and to raise her defenses against molestation. Jean Massieu testified her dress had been taken by the guards and she had nothing else to wear.
When she returned to male clothing, she was given another count of hersy for cross-dressing, though it was later disputed by the inquisitor presiding over court appeals after the war. He found that cross-dressing should be evaluated based on context, including the use of clothing as protection against rape if it offered protection. Despite the lack of incriminating evidence, Joan was condemned and sentenced to die in 1431.
Eyewitness accounts of Joan's execution by burning on May 30, 1431 describe how she was tied to a tall pillar at the Vieux-Marché in Rouen. She asked Fr. Martin Ladvenu and Fr. Isambart de la Pierre to hold a crucifix before her and an English soldier made a small cross she put in the front of her dress. After she died, the English raked the coals to expose her body so no one could spread rumors of her escaping alive, then they burned her body two more times to reduce it to ashes so no one could collect relics. After burning her body to ash, the English threw her remains into the Seine River and the executioner, Geoffroy Thérage, later said he "... greatly feared to be damned."
Joan received a formal posthumous appeal in November 1455 and the appellate court declared Joan innocent on July 7 1456.
Many women have seen Joan as a brace and active woman who operated within a religious tradition that believed a person of any class could receive a divine calling.
Prayer to St. Joan of Arc
Holy Saint Joan, compassionate to the sick and wounded, who, while on earth, nursed so many back to health, hear me.
You who wished to see no one injured or in discomfort, pray for me and guide me through this difficult time.
Daughter of God, wounded many times in battle, I petition you for healing (here mention your request here) so that I may be better able to serve God in whatever capacity HE wishes. Intercede for me.
It may not be in God’s will for my body to be healed, for my sufferings may help another or my own soul. If my request is not granted, help me to remain strong, and instead be healed emotionally and spiritually. Amen.
-Andrea Oeffinger, joanofarc.us