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Jeanne d’Arc, otherwise known as Joan of Arc, was born in France in 1421. Although illiterate, her mother instilled in her a love of the Catholic Church and its teachings. Throughout Joan’s childhood, France and England experienced two rulers: Henry V and Henry VI. These two rulers brought terror throughout the country. France was torn apart during this time due to conflicts with England, also known as the Hundred Years’ War. Joan was particularly affected as her home village, Domrémy, was overtaken by the English along with many other Northern France villages, forcing them to abandon their homes. This was only the beginning to Joan of Arc’s inspiring, yet difficult life.
In 1424, at the age of thirteen, Joan of Arc began hearing voices which she believed to be divine messages from God himself. These voices-which were later theorized to be from St. Margaret, St. Catherine, and St. Michael-were speaking to her, telling her to support King Charles VII in his fight against England. After hearing these voices, Joan took on the responsibility and claimed this to be her divine mission. Due to this mission, Joan vowed to live a chaste life, putting all of her focus into her life saving efforts. At the age of sixteen, Joan of Arc refused to participate in an arranged marriage by her father and challenged the court to not force her to partake in this union.
She began her divine mission by travelling to Vaucouleurs, France in hopes of gaining followers. She resided in Vaucouleurs for several months, challenging King Charles VII’s magistrate to accept her prophecies and allow her to visit the royal court. Although the magistrate refused at first, after seeing the followers Joan had gained, Robert de Baudricourt, the commander of King Charles VII, granted her a horse and soldiers to make the journey to the royal court in 1429. Joan of Arc then cut her hair and travelled in men’s clothing to avoid confrontation on the trip to Charles’s court. King Charles VII was hesitant after Joan’s initial interaction. Only after Joan was able to release private information and conversations of King Charles’s was he willing to accept her prophecies.
At seventeen years old in May of 1429, Joan of Arc set out with King Charles VII’s armed troops to Orléans, the site of an English siege. Despite what appeared to be an invincible English army, Joan of Arc helped lead the French to victory in Orléans. King Charles VII was then crowned king of France with Joan of Arc by his side as co-commander.
In 1430, King Charles ordered Joan to confront the Burgundian assault. In doing so, Joan was knocked off of her horse and was locked out of the town gates. The Burgundians then took Joan captive for several months until finally releasing her. King Charles VII then went on to betray the work Joan had done for him, distancing himself and making no attempt to save her from captivity. Joan of Arc was finally turned over to the church which placed seventy charges against her such as, heresy, witchcraft, and for dressing as a man. In May of 1431, Joan signed a confession denying to have ever received any divine guidance under the threat of death. However, a few days later, Joan was seen wearing men’s clothing and was sentenced to death. On May 30, 1431, at nineteen years old, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.
Twenty years after her death, Joan of Arc was tried again by Charles VII in which she was found innocent of her charges. In 1920, Joan of Arc went on to be canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict XV. Joan of Arc is now the patron saint of France.
Joan of Arc was a true changemaker and representation of selflessness in the Catholic Church. Ever since I watched a silent film on her life while in high school, I became fascinated with her commitment to her faith and beliefs. Despite several disadvantages such as male dominance and the obvious obstacle of a women at war, Joan of Arc devoted her short life to one of hardwork and dedication to Jesus Christ and the country of France.
At such a young age, Joan of Arc received an important divine message from Jesus Christ, alluding to the great work she would do for Christianity in her lifetime. Centuries after the original martyr narratives, Joan continued on with the idea of dying for her faith. As Joan of Arc was illiterate, this further proves that she was not committed to a consistent life on the verge of death simply because of reading inspiring martyr narratives or the Bible itself. Joan of Arc had a true passion for the religion as a whole, loving it for faith itself and not for the textual facts. Joan should serve as a true testament to the Catholic religion. During such a controversial and tragic period, Joan was able to find inner peace through God’s love. With this peace, Joan worked through her mission to eventual victory for her homeland and she was able to become an inspiration for Christianity past, present, and future.
Joan of Arc is only one of many martyrs who died for their religion and Christ. However, her young age is what sets her apart from many. At sixteen years old, many teenagers are selfish and ignorant with their only concern being what car they will receive on their birthday. Joan of Arc counters this stereotype through her altruistic characteristics and actions. She is the perfect model, however her practices are often overlooked. It is necessary that each practicing, Christian woman is made aware of Joan’s impact on their religion.
I have a personal connection with Joan of Arc and her bravery as a female to sacrifice herself for her country. My inspiration for life, otherwise known as my brother, is in the Navy training for the SEAL program. My brother, who has dyslexia, has been challenged his whole life with finding his place in society. After several years of training and dedication, my brother realized it was his calling to join the forces, to fight for our country, and to make his mark on the world. Since my brother’s enlistment, I have a newfound respect for individuals who sacrifice their lives for the safety of others. As much as I may selfishly wonder why my brother had a strong calling to put himself in danger and to join the forces, I honor his allegiance and dedication. As my brother is only twenty-five years old and has much of his life still left to live, I similarly admire Joan of Arc’s commitment to her country and faith that she practiced at the young age of sixteen. I also respect Joan’s practices as she gave up her womanhood for the sole purpose of others. As much as I wish I could say I would give up my femininity for others, I am not sure I would be able to part from my desires to have a husband, family, and long life filled with happiness and peace. Joan of Arc is a true hero and model for woman of faith.
Joan of Arc is a changemaker for Christianity as a whole. She greatly impacted her country and religious history for the better. Her loyalty to France shows her dedication. Her commitment to her faith shows her passion for Christ. And her bravery to accept death shows her selflessness. Not only is she an inspiration for myself, Joan of Arc is an inspiration for Christian women worldwide.
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