Saint Joan of Arc
“The day when Joan was burned, the wood was got ready to burn her before the sermon was finished or the sentence had been pronounced. And no sooner the sentence uttered by the bishop, without any delay, she was taken to the fire, and I did not see that there was any sentence pronounced by the lay judge. But was at once taken to the fire. And in the fire she cried more than six times ‘Jesus,’ and above all with her last breath she cried in a loud voice ‘Jesus!’ so that all present could hear her. Almost all wept with pity, and I have heard say that the ashes, after her burning, were gathered up and cast into the Seine.”
-Mauger Leparmentier about Joan of Arc
Also called Jeanne d’Arc and Jeanne la Pucelle, Joan of Arc was born in France, near the border of Burgundy, on January 6, 1412. At first, Joan seemed like a normal child, but then at age 13, she began to hear voices that she believed were St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret of Antioch. The voices told her that her mission was to save France, and at their bidding, Joan went to the castle of the Dauphin Charles of France at Chinan and told him what the voices told her.
Soon, Joan was sent with an army to Orleans and succeeded in raising the Englsh seige on May 8, 1429. After that, Joan began to win many more battles against the English, taking France back piece by piece. This included the battle of Paris, but Joan and her army failed because they had not been supplied adequately enough. On July 17, 1429, Joan escorted the Dauphin to be crowned as King Charles VII in Raims Cathedral. This never would have happened if not for Joan.
However, in May 1430, Joan was captured during a battle and sold to an Englishman named John of Luxembourg for 10,000 crowns. Then, she was put on trial for sorcery and heresy. The Dauphin made no attempt to save her, although it is thought that the English would have taken a ransom. Instead, she was convicted by the Inquisition and burned at the stake in the St. Rouen churchyard on May 30, 1431, when she was less than twenty years old. Jean Massieu, who witnessed her death says, “The pious woman asked, requested, and begged me, as I was near her at her end, that I would go to the near-by church and fetch the cross to hold it raised before her eyes to the threshold of her death, that the cross with God hung upon be continually before her eyes in her lifetime.”
In 1456, Charles VII anulled Joan’s conviction in order that he not owe his reign to one of the Devil’s pawns. In 1904, she was considered Venerable, in 1908, was recognized as Blessed, and finally, in May 1920, she was canonized by the Pope and became a Saint. She even has her own holiday, a French national holiday on a specified Sunday.