Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Joan of Arc

 Today is the feast day of St. Joan of Arc.

This young peasant girl is probably one of the most recognized saints in the world. Joan of Arc was born in the town of Domremy on the border of France and Lorraine in January of 1412 and lived just nineteen years. Her youth coincided with a French civil that war raged between the houses of Orleans and Burgundy; at the same time, France and England remained embroiled in the Hundred Years' War.

Joan heard voices of the Archangel Gabriel and other saints telling her God wanted her to save her country. Amazingly, although she could neither read nor write, she was able to convince the Dauphin (the future Charles VII) to give her leadership of French troops. Dressed as a soldier, Joan and her soldiers won the Battle of Orleans in 1429. She continued to win battles for France, but eventually, was captured by the British. A trial focused on her supposed witchcraft; when the corrupt court couldn't make those charges stick, they focused on the heresy of Joan's wearing men's clothing as a soldier, and the fact that she "heard voices." Joan was sentenced to death and on May 30, 1431, as she was burned at the stake, she called on Jesus and asked forgiveness for those who killed her.

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