Joan of Arc Center, Albuquerque.
Joan of Arc is a French hero. She dressed in armour to lead the French armies to success in battle, and was captured, tortured and burned at the stake by the British. Her qualities of courage, faith and loyalty are highly regarded by the French and images and statues of her may be found in most towns of France.
Saint Joan was born on January 6, 1412,
in the village of Domremy. She was the youngest of their five children.
While growing up among the fields and pastures of her village, she was
called Jeannette but when she entered into her mission, her name was
changed to Jeanne, la Pucelle, or Joan, the Maid.
Her mother taught her to spin and sew as
well as her religion. Joan was known to be generous and kind towards her
neighbours and friends. When she was thirteen, Joan began to hear her
These were the saints telling her to be good, go
to church often and that God would help her. She stated that her 'Voices'
were Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret.
At first her 'Voices' came to her two or three times a week but as the
time for her mission drew near (five years later), they visited her
daily telling her to 'Go into France'.
At this time, France and England were
at war. Joan's voices told her that she was to help the heir to
the King of France, the Dauphin Charles, to win back France from
the English invaders.
Joan went to Orleans, where the armies led by the Dauphin, Charles, were in the process of a very unsuccessful campaign against the invading English. She had to argue very hard to be allowed
to meet with the Dauphin. People did not believe that God had
sent her on a mission. They laughed at her because she was a mere peasant. Further, they thought she was mad because she dressed in men's clothes and had cut her hair in a man's style.
The French were desperate as all their battle strategies had so far brought them little success. The Dauphin decided that perhaps God was working through Joan.
Joan is presented to the Dauphin at court.
|The pictures are part of some of the stained glass windows in Orléans cathedral. The one to the right illustrates Joan being presented to court saying: "Lord Dauphin I can help you."
The battle was won by the French, who adopted Joan as their battle leader. She successfully led the French armies to
victory in many battles against the English. Charles was crowned King
of France on the death of his father.
Joan rides in her armour
|A suit of armour was made specially for her so that it would fit properly. Dressed in this, with a white banner embroidered with golden fleur de lys, the symbol of the Kings of France, Joan led the army into battle.
believed she was watched over by Michael the Archangel in battle. (See the picture on the right). Many people thought that she was a
witch because she wore men's clothes and dressed in men's armour
to fight. The English wanted desperately to capture or to kill her, since she seemed to have brought a magic spell of success to the French.
She was eventually captured by the army of the Duke of Burgundy who, in an act of treachery, handed her over to the English. The English not only wanted to kill Joan, and but
also wanted to show people that King Charles had no right to the French
throne. So they wanted to prove that Joan was a witch. A "show trial" was held and Joan
was put on trial for witchcraft. She was tried by judges who were friendly
to England. Her trial was very unfair and biased. She was an illiterate peasant girl without learning, who was facing some of the most highly educated minds. Nevertheless, she trusted in God and was able to hold her own in most of the arguments.
Unfortunately for Joan, the verdict was pre-determined. She was found guilty of being a witch. At this time, the sentence for witch-craft was very cruel. People were burned alive. They were tied to a stake, with piles of wood surrounding them, which was then set alight. Often, young green wood was used, which burned slowly and prolonged the victim's torture. This was Joan's fate. She was sentenced
to be burnt to death at the stake.
The executioners ensured that the wood was old and dry, so it caught fire quickly. Joan died in Rouen in 1431 at the age of
19. Twenty-five years later the findings of Joan's first trial were
overthrown by another Church court, which this time was favorable
to King Charles.
Many people believed that Joan was a very holy woman, but it was not until 1920 that the Church
declared Joan to be a saint. Her feast day is celebrated on May
30th. She is a patron saint of France.
She is a favourite hero of France, and monuments of her, dressed in her armour, carrying her sword and riding her horse may be found in many cities. Here is one in the city of Orléans. There is is a statue of St Joan of Arc in the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, where she carries her banner with the fleur de lys.