, Research Paper
Joan of Arc was an exceptional character. The pureness in her heart and the devotion she had to her faith drew me to learn more about her. In every way possible she was a saint. Her life provides inspiration to the rest of the world and teaches us to remain true to the voice of God within ourselves.
Joan of Arc was born on January 6, 1412. During Joan s childhood, the land of France was caught in the middle of the Hundred Year s War. Her hometown, Domremy, was placed partially between the forces of the English and the French. On occasion, Joan and her family had to flee from armies passing through her town.
Ever since a young age, Joan stood out among other boys and girls when it came to faith. She would never distract herself with things that she knew were not right and good in her heart, no matter what others might say. In one instance, Joan did not join in when fellow friends made offerings of flowers to fairies; instead she offered the same to the saints.
When Joan was 13 years old, she started hearing voices. The voices were of St. Michael and several angels that only urged her to attend church and pray often. Soon Joan heard the voices of St. Catherine and St. Margaret as well. After a year or so, these same voices started telling her that she must help the future king of France to be crowned. At the time, Charles VII had to be coronated at Reims by tradition but the problem was that at that time, Reims was held by the English. The English had their own hopes of crowning Henry VI, who was but a child.
When Joan was 16 years old, St. Michael told her more specifically to drive out the English and bring the king to be crowned. She was frightened upon hearing this but a sense of peace came over her when St. Michael told her, “God will help you.” Because of Joan s trust in the voices, and ultimately in the faith of God, she left Domremy without telling her parents and succeeded in going to the king and convincing him of her mission. He supplied her with an army to raise the siege of Orleans, which was the first necessary step to reaching Reims.
Even though fellow commanders had lack of faith, the siege was lifted with full credit going to Joan. She accomplished what the army commanders insisted could not happen. And for this, the people of Orleans believed that they had witnessed a miracle: a miracle that created faith among the folk for this newfound leader. Joan was a leader that credited her inspiration and success to the Lord. She had the ability to get soldiers and captains to listen to her and obey whatever she asked them to do. Joan was a devout Catholic that believed in God and chose to carry out his orders. Because of her faith, she had every soldier participating in mass and going to confession. She also chased away all of the prostitutes following the army, which showed her morality. She considered the well-being of her forces so important that she did not want to remain in Orleans upon arrival, but wanted to stay with her army to make sure they did not break faith. She acted like a higher figure to these soldiers, never giving up on the army, just like God never gives up on us.
From there on it seemed Joan would be successful until the day she reached Reims and the King was coronated. Joan s triumph started declining due to the lack of monetary support from King Charles VII. Eventually, she was captured at Compiegne when she was left outside after a drawbridge was raised too carelessly. Joan was tried by an English inquisition court where she was found to be heretical for supposedly believing in something contrary to the ideas of the Church. This was the age in which the Church felt threatened by the increasing numbers of people who went against its authority or disagreed with its teachings. The English not only wanted to kill Joan but also wanted to discredit King Charles by having Joan condemned by the Church as a witch and a heretic. To obtain this goal, the English used the Church authorities they knew to be favorable of them. One of them was Bishop Cauchon.
Throughout Joan s whole imprisonment and her trial, she surprised everyone by keeping faith, knowing that she would be freed spiritually. The voices comforted her every day, and she trusted in the goodness of God’s plan for her. The voices assured her again and again that she would be freed by a great victory. At the trials, Joan would tell the judges over and over about her love for God, the Church and its teachings, but they still insisted that the voices were of the Devil. She even testified that she never killed a man, despite her reputation as a warrior. Her true colors of morality and deep faith showed even in instances like this.
Joan also kept her faith in God and in the Church during the trial. She was unwilling to submit to church authority (the main accusers) because the English, not the Church, were holding her. The judges, who claimed to be authority figures from the church, really were not what they pretended to be. They asked Joan to be submissive towards them. With this she replied, I will answer you. On submission to the Church I have said that all the works which I have said and done should be submitted to Rome to our lord the supreme pontiff, to whom, after God, I refer myself. And as for my words and deeds, I did them on behalf of God. So even in a time where Joan was most vulnerable, she turned to God to guide her. When receiving her sentence of death (burning at the stake), she told her main prosecutor, Cauchon, Alas! If you had put me in Church prisons and in the hands of competent and suitable Church guards, this would not have happened; that is why I appeal to God about you. After this, Joan began to pray with great passion unto God and the saints. She repeatedly begged for the crowd to forgive her, to pray for her, and she promised that in turn, she would forgive them. Because of these actions, much of the assembly and even the churchmen who condemned her were deeply unnerved. One Englishman said, “We are all lost, we have burned a saint.”
Joan of Arc did end up becoming a canonized saint by the Church. She was officially named a saint on May 16, 1920, in Saint Peter s Basilica. In order to obtain this rank, four authentic miracles are to be sworn by promoters of the future saint to secure for beatification and two more miracles for canonization. In Joan s case, a miracle was dispensed because she had saved France. Therefore, three miracles were adequate enough for her beatification. The three approved miracles that raised Joan to Blessed were: Sister Therese of Saint Augustine had been cured of leg ulcers, Sister Julie Gauthier was cured of a cancerous ulcer of her left breast, and Sister Marie Sagnier was cured of stomach cancer. The other two miracles needed for Joan of Arc’s canonization were obtained and authenticated without much delay. Joan of Arc s feast day is celebrated on May 30th, the day of her death, and the French government officially makes May 8th a national holiday in her honor.
As a Christian, Joan never wavered from her faith in God, or in the church as a whole. Joan lead the king to coronation and defined the nation of France, all because of God s faith in her. Her absolute greatness is the fact that she was willing to place loyalty to God above what others thought of her or said of her, and even above life itself. The story of Joan of Arc has inspired both men and women to great deeds of courage. Women from Greece, Turkey and China were encouraged by her story to fight for their countries’ freedom. She even motivated the Free French Resistance to Nazi Occupation during World War Two. Who knows who else Joan of Arc already has or will inspire?