Saint Joan of Arc was a famous French
heroine. She was born in 1412 and died on May 30, 1431. She
was born in Domremy, France. She was born a peasant and given the
name Jeanne d'Arc but called herself Jeanne la Pucelle (Joan the
Maid). Like most peasants, she never learned to read or write but
she was very religious. She practiced the Roman Catholic
religion. Many people thought that she was a clairvoyant. A
clairvoyant is a person who can see into the future or knows what is
happening in different places. Joan claimed she heard voices and
that God told her to help King Charles VII of France remove the English
When Joan went to see the king the first thing Charles did was test her. One of Charles' nobleman sat in the throne and pretended to be king (Joan had never seen the king). Charles slipped into the crowd when Joan came into the room. Joan was not fooled and quickly found Charles and bowed to him. Charles believed she had supernatural powers because she was able to tell him what he had said to God in his own prayers when he was alone. Charles gave her an army and a suit of white armor. Joan marched to save Orleans from the English. She did this in only ten days in April, 1429. During the battle she was hit by an arrow. She pulled it out and continued to fight. She inspired other soldiers to fight against the English and win. Joan is also known to have dressed in men's clothing and cut her hair short. This was a big no-no in those days. One reason she did it was that the English wouldn't recognize her when she traveled.
Joan continued to fight the English. Once Joan jumped out of a prison tower. She was 70 feet above the ground but she didn't die. Unfortunately the English just captured her again in 1430. The English said that the only way she could have beat them was by using witchcraft. A few months later they put her on trial and said she was guilty of witchcraft and wearing men's clothes. She was burned at the stake before a large crowd in Rouen on May 30, 1431.
In 1455, Joan's family asked for a new trial to look over the charges against Joan. Pope Callistus III agreed to have a hearing and said that Joan was innocent. King Charles had also tried twice to have her declared innocent but had no luck.
In 1902, Pope Piux X beatified her. Beatification is a first step to becoming a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Later in 1920 (500 years after her death) Pope Benedict XV declared that Joan was saint.