As I am currently reading Helen Castor’s book “Joan of Arc” I am struck by the wide variety of people whom God uses as He orchestrates history. Literary geniuses such as Boethius or Dante, theologians such as Augustine or Aquinas, and ….. even an illiterate teenage farm girl.
Joan was born in 1412 in the French village of Domremy during the Hundred Years’ War in which the English kings were establishing their claim to the French throne. The English had been doing quite well– gaining spectacular victories at Crecy and Agincourt and elsewhere. By the time Joan showed up and presented herself to the heir to the French throne (Charles VII), the French were demoralized and controlled barely half of what is now the current nation-state.
However, truth is often stranger than fiction. Who would write a story that a teenage girl would claim to see heavenly visions, gain an audience with the Dauphin (Charles VII), actually convince him that SHE should LEAD his armies into battle, and then be present at his coronation? Well she did all of that and more. Joan was wounded three times in several battles (twice by arrows and once by a boulder hitting her helmet), yet she inspired her French armies to defeat the English for the first time in about 80 years. And she was there when the Dauphin was crowned as King Charles VII in Rouen, the historical place of all French coronation.
You know the rest…she was captured in battle by the Burgundians, put on trial, and then burned at the stake. She was only 19.
Today this peasant girl who could only write her name, yet influence a king, devise military strategy and lead armies into battle, is now considered a saint, a national hero, and a pivotal person who changed the course of history.
Ya just never know…