On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class in the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she was said to have heard the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret.
At first the messages were personal and general, but when she was 13-years-old, she was in her father’s garden and had visions of Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret, each of whom told her to drive the English from French territory. They also asked that she bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation.
After their messages were delivered and the saints departed, Joan cried, as “they were so beautiful.”
When she was sixteen-years-old, she asked her relative, Durand Lassois, to take her to Vaucouleurs, where she petitioned Robert de Baudricourt, the garrison commander, for permission to visit the French Royal Court in Chinon.
Despite Baudricourt’s sarcastic response to her request, Joan returned the following January and left with the support of two of Baudricourt’s soldiers: Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy.
Jean de Metz admitted Joan had confided in him, saying, “I must be at the King’s side … there will be no help if not from me. Although I would rather have remained spinning [wool] at my mother’s side … yet must I go and must I do this thing, for my Lord wills that I do so.”
With Metz and Poulengy at her side, Joan met Baudricourt and predicted a military reversal at the Battle of Rouvray near Orléans, which were confirmed several days later by a messenger’s report. When Baudricourt realized the distance of the battle’s location and the time it would have taken Joan to make the journey, he concluded she had seen the reversal by Divine revelation, which caused him to believe her words.
Once she had Baudricourt’s belief, Joan was granted an escort to Chinon through hostile Burgundian territory. For her safety, she was escorted while dressed as a male soldier, which later led to charges of cross-dressing, but her escorts viewed as a sound precaution.
Two members of her escort confirmed they and the people of Vaucouleurs gave her the clothing and had been the ones to suggest she don the outfit.
When she arrived in the Royal Court, she met in a private conference with Charles VII and won his trust. Yolande of Aragon, Charles’ mother-in-law, planned a finance relief expedition to Orléans and Joan asked to travel with the army while wearing armor, which the Royal government agreed to. They also provided Joan’s armor and she depended on donations for everything she took with her.
With a donated horse, sword, banner, armor, and more, Joan arrived to Orléans and quickly turned the Anglo-French conflict into a religious war.
Charles’ advisors worried Joan’s claims of doing God’s work could be twisted by his enemies, who could easily claim she was a sorceress, which would link his crown to works of the devil. To prevent accusations, the Dauphin ordered background inquiries and a theological exam at Poitiers to verify Joan’s claims.
In April 1429, the commission of inquiry “declared her to be of irreproachable life, a good Christian, possessed of the virtues of humility, honesty and simplicity.” Rather than deciding on whether or not Joan was acting on the basis of divine inspiration, theologians at Poitiers told the Dauphin there was a “favorable presumption” on the divine nature of her mission.
Charles was satisfied with the report but theologians reminded him Joan must be tested. They claimed, “[t]o doubt or abandon her without suspicion of evil would be to repudiate the Holy Spirit and to become unworthy of God’s aid.”
They suggested her test should be a test of her claim to lift the siege of Orléans, as she originally predicted would happen.
In response to the test, Joan arrived at Orléans on April 29, 1429, where Jean d’Orléans, the acting head of the ducal family of Orléans, ensured she was excluded from war councils and kept ignorant of battles.
During the five months prior to Joan’s arrival to Orléans, the French had only attempted one offensive assault, which resulted in their defeat, but after her arrival, things began to change.
Learn more about St. Joan of Arc: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=295