*** Notes for Today’s Show ***
It is the 30th of May 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
Today we remember Joan of Arc on the 590th anniversary of her death f. You’ve certainly heard about Joan of Arc. She is a French icon, a feminist icon, and an actual Saint (as of 1920). Her martyrdom has been portrayed in film and in Smith’s Bigmouth Strikes Again, Morrissey compares himself to the heroine with the self-indulgent refrain “and now I know how Joan of Arc felt”.
But who was she? What did she actually do, and why has history been so obsessed with the short bobbed illiterate farm girl who did something with… something like a war? And she was burned at the stake? Let’s break down the basics:
Jean D’Arc was an illiterate farm girl from a small French village. She was born in 1412 in the midst of the Hundred Years War. It was during this time that the English King was claiming to be the King of France. The French king had died and his young son had yet to be crowned.
In 1425 a 13-year-old Joan began to have her first visions. These were St. Michael the Archangel and other saints. She claimed to hear the voice of God charging her to lead her country in war, her persistence gained her an audience with the King’s son and he trusted her.
And this part sounds crazy, I know. But she had a few things going for her:
A French legend had it that Merlin the wizard had claimed that a young maiden would save France in their greatest hour of need. The young maiden or “La Pucelle” was identified as Joan by some.
She had successfully predicted a French victory and thus she gained credibility.
Claims of divine inspiration were taken seriously, especially during wartime when you needed to know if God was on your side. And being two Christian kingdoms it wasn’t as easy as painting the other as a heretic.
And lastly, once the legend started the French population wanted to believe it.
We can note Joan’s significance by making the following points:
We know about Joan because her trial was such an event, we have detailed accounts of the spoken record.
Her story is one of a woman “out of place” but possibly divinely inspired. This would be to the consternation of many, but also to their fascination.
She would later become a symbol of French nationalism. As with those 15th-century folk who believed in Joan because they wanted to, so too did the French nationalists in the coming centuries.
It’s worth noting that she never actually engaging in the kind of warfare she is depicted in, she tended to be more oracle and mascot than a fighter.
And finally, her being put to death is important because the charges against her were heresy. If you remember the Western Schism- that time when there were as many as three guys claiming to be Pope in three different cities- this was the time right after that. Nonconformists, enthusiasts, and schismatics would be seen as especially dangerous and Joan could be painted as all three and more.
She was arrested in 1430 but recanted at the last second. Within a year she “relapsed” from her recantation and that was enough to have her burned at the stake on this, the 30th of May in 1431.
The last word for today comes from the 1st Epistle of John, the 3rd chapter:
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 30th of May 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite Arcs include Joan, Noah’s, the one for Welding, and “of the covenant”, he is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man forever haunted by the Arc of the Covenant after that one Indiana Jones movie Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.