Joan of Arc, a devout saint of God, was burned at the stake in May of 1431 on charges of heresy. After a long trial that lasted over a year, three major indictments were made against her. The first of these was that she used magic because she claimed to hear voices from St. Michael, St. Margaret, and St. Catherine. It was these voices which told her to dress as a boy and fight for the French in the Hundred Years War against the English. The charge against her stated that the voices were actually demons instead of saints. They accused her of being linked to the devil.
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The second indictment affirmed what was actually true--that she was headstrong in speaking out for her faith. The reason this was a crime is because she acted inappropriately as a woman in the church in her time. She dressed as a boy, fought in war, took communion as a male, all of which horrified the judges and people of her time.
The third set of accusations reflects Joan of Arc's pure obedience to God. It was said, "'she does not submit herself to the judgment of the Church Militant, or to that of living men, but to God alone,' whom, [the University of Paris] said, she claimed to know through her diabolical voices."
On these charges, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in the Old Market Place of Rouen, near the church of Saint-Sauveur. She was only 18 or 19 years old, and her death was a powerful witness of her commitment to God. When her sentence was to be carried out, she asked to face the cross from the church, and to hold a small, wooden cross until she died. While her body was burning, she kept repeating the name of Jesus over and over to give her strength. "...in giving up the ghost and bowing her head, [she] uttered the name of Jesus as a sign that she was fervent in the faith of God."
Barstow, Anne Llewllyn, Joan of Arc--Heretic, Mystic, Shaman. (Lewiston/Queenston; The Edwin Mellen Press, 1986) p. 83.
Hyarns, Edward, translator, Joan of Arc: by Herself and Her Witnesses. (New York; Stein and Day Publishers, 1966) p. 232.
Edited by: Nathan L. Seldomridge
Researched by: Jill E. Luckow
Written by: Erica E. Olson
December 14, 1996
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