St. Joan of Arc
Feast Day: May 30
In May of 1429, a young woman, clothed in white armor, rode her horse onto the battlefield at Orleans. Behind her marched hundreds of French soldiers. Following her battle cry, they defeated the English and won great victories for France during the Hundred Years’ War.
Jeanne d’Arc was only 17 years old when she won that battle. She fought to bring peace to her country. For nearly 100 years, the French and the English had been fighting. The French farmers and their families suffered greatly. English soldiers burned their fields and crops, and many people died of hunger.
Jeanne, or Joan as she is best known outside of France, had been born to one of these poor farm families in 1412. At the age of 13, she began hearing the voices of Sts. Michael, Catherine and Margaret. They encouraged her to help the French farmers.
So at 16, Joan left the farm and went to the palace of the French prince. She asked to lead his army. After she won the battle of Orleans, Joan led her soldiers to other victories. She was wounded several times.
She was eventually captured by the enemy, and the English then purchased her as a prisoner and put her on trial. The English found Joan guilty of lying about the voices she heard. On May 30, 1431, they burned Joan to death. (She was only 19 years old.) But 25 years later, the Church found her innocent of all crime.
In 1920, the Church said that she was a true saint who had fought for what she believed. She is sometimes called the “Maid of Orleans” and is the patron saint of France.
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