By Mel Mantanona
St. Joan of Arc, the patroness of France, was born on Jan. 6, 1412 into a poor French family. She spent a lot of time with the animals at home and was a good seamstress. At a young age, she began hearing the voices and having visions of Saints Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch.
As she grew up, France was involved in the Hundred Years’ War with England. Political feuds over who would own the crown dominated the lands. The saints through her visions told Joan that she would save France and that she should meet with Charles, the heir to the French throne, to rid the English and crown him as king.
She went off and tried to get in contact with those close to Charles but was refused. Only after gaining support from local villagers, she was granted a horse and was escorted to an audience with Charles. She cut off her hair and cross dressed for the journey. Charles found favor with her after she spoke of a private prayer Charles had made to God for France to be saved. She was given a horse and went with the army to an English siege. Throughout the next few days, the French finally took over the English. Joan was wounded but continued to fight in battle. Charles was later crowned king.
During another battle, Joan fell off her horse and was taken captive by the Burgundians for a couple of months. After she was finally exchanged back to France after many negotiations, she was tried as a heretic and charged with 70 accounts of witchcraft, cross-dressing, and so forth.
She was found guilty of heresy burned at the stake in Rouen and her ashes were scattered in a river in Northern France. There’s a legend that her heart survived through the burning fire. The war persisted for another 22 years and King Charles VII declared Joan innocent of heresy. She was martyred at the age of 19 in 1431 and her feast day is May 30. She is the patron saint of soldiers and France.
Prayer through the intercession of Joan of Arc:
O Lord, you wondrously raised up Joan, your virgin, to defend the faith and her country in your name. Through her intercession grant that the church may overcome the snares of her enemies, and attain lasting peace. Amen.
Information and photo from biography.com and Albert Lynch