Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Joan of Arc (1412–1431)

Saint Joan of Arc (1412–1431)

One of the patron saints of France

Feast day: May 30

Joan of Arc, while still in her teens, was burned at the stake because of her faith in God. She had been born into a peasant family in France and was a child at the time of the Hundred Years’ War between France and England and the civil war that pitted the French houses of Orleans and Burgundy against each other.

She convinced the French king that she had heard messages from saints telling her to save France. She was given troops to try to defend Orleans and had the honor of leading them into battle. After victory at Orleans and other military successes, Joan was accorded the privilege of standing next to the new king at his coronation.

The next year, however, she was captured by the duke of Burgundy and imprisoned. The French king did nothing to save her. She was tried for heresy and convicted. After refusing to deny that the voices she heard were from God, she was condemned to death.

Joan was only a teenager when she was burned at the stake, gazing at the cross and calling the name of Jesus. A quarter of a century later, a commission appointed by Pope Callistus III reversed the verdict and declared Joan innocent.

She was canonized in 1920. (From The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth [Saint Mary’s Press]) 

(Image in public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)