At the age of 13, a French peasant girl named Joan D’Arc began hearing voices and having visions. The voices told her to go on an important mission to save France. It was the 1400s, and England was occupying much of France, forcing many French people to leave their homes.
The voices in Joan’s head felt like they were divine. Joan was convinced that God was telling her to save her beloved country. The voices gave her a specific mission: save France by ridding it of invaders and make Charles, the eldest son of the former king, the new king.
As part of Joan’s mission, she also took a vow of chastity. When her father tried to arrange a marriage for her at age 16, she convinced local courts that the match was not suitable.
At the time, a popular prophecy foretold a virgin saving France. Joan claimed to be that virgin, but only a few believed her. Even so, she was determined to speak with Charles herself and convince him of her mission.
Joan who couldn’t even read or write, promised Charles that if he gave her an army, he would become King of France. Against the advice of his counselors and advisors, Charles gave a teenage girl an army of men.
In March of 1429, Joan rode into battle wearing white armor and riding a white horse. Miraculously, under Joan’s leadership, the enemy retreated. Soon all of France knew about Joan and her divine mission to save France. As she promised, Charles VII was later crowned King of France.
Unfortunately, in the eyes of some, Joan had become too powerful. King Charles thought that because the French people saw her as holy, she was a threat to his power. In the spring of 1430, the king ordered Joan to lead an army once again, but this time she wasn’t embarking on her own divine mission, she was simply following the king’s orders. In a terrible twist of fate, she was captured by the enemy and held hostage, facing more than 70 criminal accusations including witchcraft.
During her trial, 19-year-old Joan refused to speak and things took a turn for the worst. The jurors were infuriated and sentenced her to death claiming that instead of communicating with God, Joan was actually a dark witch.
A few days later she was taken to the middle of the town square and burned at the stake.
However, in death, Joan was still powerful. Many French believed that her mission truly had been divine and was enraged that the English had burned her alive. This fueled France’s rebellion against England.
In 1920, the pope granted Joan D’Arc sainthood.