By Christina Hermoso
The Roman Catholic Church pays tribute on Saturday, May 30, to the life and works of the patron saint of soldiers and of France—Saint Joan (Santa Juana) of Arc.
Considered as one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints, St. Joan’s statue can be found in nearly all parks and city centers in France, where many streets were named in her honor. St. Joan, to this day, serves as an enduring symbol of French unity.
The revered saint is often invoked by individuals who need to accomplish a very difficult and nearly impossible task.
Well known writers such as Shakespeare, Voltaire, Schiller, Verdi, and Twain had been inspired by her heroic and colorful life, which had been depicted many times in films, books, plays, television, and music.
Born Jeanne la Pucelle on January 6, 1412 in Domremy, France, St. Joan, at the young age of 17, led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War, a prolonged conflict between France and England from 1337 to 1453. Attributing her victories to divine guidance, Charles VII was able to assume his rightful throne as king of France with her by his side.
Later, however, she started to lose her battles because of lack of support from the king. She was captured and burned at the stake in Rouen, France on May 30, 1431 at the age of 19. Her last word was “Jesus.”
Thirty years later, St. Joan was exonerated of all guilt and was subsequently beatified at the historic Norte Dame Cathedral in Paris. Pope Benedict XV canonized her in 1920.