Happy St. Joan's Day

Happy Memorial Day, and happy Joan of Arc Day! Today is the feast day of Jehanne d'Arc, the teenage peasant girl who believed she was called by God to rescue her native France from the grip of the Hundred Years' War. Surprisingly, she succeeded, leading troops in battle against the invading English and crowning the Dauphin Charles king of France. She was captured by the English in battle.

The king she had so faithfully served refused to ransom or rescue her, so the British tried her in a kangaroo church court and convicted her of heresy and witchcraft. She was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. She was just nineteen years old.

Twenty-five years later, Pope Callixtus III looked into the matter, and proclaimed her an innocent martyr. She was canonized an official saint of the Catholic Church in 1920.

Whether you believe Joan's heavenly voices and visions were truly saints and angels of God, or merely a product of mental illness, you have to admit that she was a truly remarkable young woman. After all, it takes a special kind of illiterate teenage peasant girl to become a successful general, reconquer France, and crown a king, all before the age of twenty.

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