Joan of Arc
(Painting of Joan of Arc by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in1882)
Joan of Arc (6 January c. 1412 – 30 May 1431), nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans“, is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Hundred Years’ War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. We cannot be sure about the history about Joan’s life, so best to keep an open mind. We believe that she was born to Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Romée, a peasant family, at Domrémy in north-east France.
It is said that Joan claimed to have received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years’ War. This peasant girl, with an unexplained mastery of many military skills was inexplicably sent by the French uncrowned King Charles VII to take charge of the relief mission at the siege of Orléans
She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. She then, in an act of remarkablly generous faith, was entrusted by Charles and his court of nobles and knights with the leadership of the French forces. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII’s coronation at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory.
On 23 May 1430, she was captured at Compiègne by the Burgundian faction, a group of French nobles allied with the English. She was later put on trial by the bishop Pierre Cauchon on a variety of charges. After Cauchon declared her guilty, she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431, dying at about nineteen years of age.
In 1456, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, exposed the falseness of the charges against her, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. In the 16th century she became a symbol of the Catholic League, and in 1803 she was declared a national symbol of France by the decision of Napoleon Bonaparte. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.
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