Posted on Monday, 20 February, 2006 | 0 comments
Columnist: Joe Goff
One of the most interesting moments of our shared history would have to be the strange path taken by Saint Joan of Arc. Born and raised a peasant girl she led a normal life much like any child during the Hundred Years War. Tending sheep, helping out with the work around the house and occasionally fleeing from enemy troops. It seems to have been a happy childhood though. She was loved by her parents, watched after by her brothers and had many godparents who all helped care for her. In fact it wasn’t until the onset of puberty that her life truly began. The story goes that she was in the field with the other children tending the sheep when a strange boy that Joan first thought was one of her brothers. The boy told her to go to the house because her mother wanted her. She immediately left to go to the house and when she arrived was told that no one had sent for her and that she was to go back to the field and tend the sheep. On the way back she was visited by Saint Michael in the first of her visions. After that she was regularly visited by Saint Michael, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine.
Her visions began as simple reassurances. Be a good girl, listen to your parents, go to church and God loves you. In fact for many years her visions were actually very boring. Joan was slowly being led into the role chosen for her. For three years this continued until her visions told her that it was time to begin her mission. Joan herself said that at first she resisted and didn’t want to believe in what she had to do. However in time she gave into them.
Another interesting event was happening at the same time. Joan’s father began to have prophetic dreams of his daughter. He saw her leaving with soldiers and going out in the world. I think it’s safe to say though that he never imagined his daughter leading them. Instead he saw her doing this as a prostitute. A logical conclusion at the time. He was recorded as saying “If I believed that the thing I have dreamed of her should come to pass, I should want you to drown her; and if you did not do so, I would drown her myself.” He was talking to her brothers.
Her first foray into the military world was failure. The commander of the local garrison thought she was a fool girl and refused to listen to her. While she had convinced two noblemen of her cause Joan still found herself sent home in disgrace. Joan however was never one to quit, nine months later she returned and met with success leading France to throw back the English and begin the liberation of her country. It wasn’t until she was captured by the English and burned as a heretic and witch that her successes ended. However I have no desire to turn this into a history lesson, one you could find out for yourself in any library. Instead I want to focus on the miracles of Joan of Arc.
It begins with a prophecy by Marie d’Avignon that France having been lost through a women, would be restored by a girl. Joan fits the definition of a “girl” as she remained a virgin throughout her life and I think it can be agreed that she restored France. So we have our first piece of evidence that is certainly odd to say the least.
Her first two miracles are very similar in nature. She had boasted that she would be able to recognize both Robert de Baudricourt and the Dauphin, Charles the VII on site. She successfully did both. However it’s hard to find either of these events to be a miracle. I find it hard to believe that she had never heard descriptions of these men before. Descriptions that would allow her to pick both men out of a crowd. In all fairness though we weren’t there so perhaps these truly were miracles.
The next major miracle was the change of the wind at Orleans. Joan needed to get her troops and her supplies across the river in order to begin the siege of Orleans. When she arrived at the river in a storm the wind was blowing the wrong way. She never would have been able to cross under the situations she was under. Joan however was adamant that they would cross the river and that they needed to be ready to cross. When her captains tried to explain the situation Joan simply replied that they would only need to wait for a little bit and all would be well. And the wind changed directions allowing them to cross the river.
Joan also appears to have been able to see the future in a limited extent. She was able to predict her injury at Orleans and her capture by the English. There are many other examples of her ability. From being aware of battles taking place, to saving her men in battle by predicting that if they stayed where they were they would die. One of these prophecies is to me the most interesting of all. On her way to first meet Charles the VII, while riding into the city a man on horseback said to Joan “Jarnidieu, is that not the Pucelle? If I could have her for one night, I would not return her in like condition.” A quick explanation here, Pucelle in French means the virgin. Joan responded back “In the name of God, you deny Him, and you so near to death” and she rode on. One hour later he had fallen into the water and drowned.
The last and perhaps most significant miracle attributed to Joan is her recovery of the Sword of Fierbois. After receiving her armor and horse Joan was offered a sword. She refused saying that God had already chosen a sword for her. She then gave instructions that were to be given to a certain church. They were to go behind the church to a certain spot and dig. There they found her sword. Covered in rust the armorer was amazed as the flakes of rust fell off leaving the sword perfect.
What makes the miracles of Joan of Arc so interesting is that we have written accounts of her exploits and miracles from the men who rode with her. Everything they reported these men had seen firsthand and had written it down for modern researchers to authenticate. Even now her life is largely unexplained. Leaving the final decision of the truth of her life to you the reader.
Article Copyright© Joe Goff - reproduced with permission.