St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was born in Domremy, France to peasant farmers during the Hundred Years War between France and England. She was a pious child, and from age 13 she received visions of saints, most notably St. Michael the Archangel, St. Margaret of Antioch, and St. Catherine of Alexandria, who became her special patrons. Through these visions, voices, and other interior promptings, Joan understood that she was to help the King of France regain his throne.
After overcoming her own reluctance, and that of the military and ecclesiastical authorities, she heroically led the French army in battle. With her leadership they recaptured Orleans and Troyes, which allowed Charles VII to be restored to the throne of France. All the while she wore the dress of a soldier to protect her virtue and modesty. The following year she was captured by the English, imprisoned, and placed on trial under accusation of heresy and witchcraft. She was treated unjustly and illegally during her captivity, and her trial became a circus. Under political pressure she was condemned and burned alive at the stake, even though she proved herself to be blameless and fearless in character and faith.
As she burned she kept her eyes on a crucifix and repeatedly called on the name of Jesus. A second Church trial twenty-five years later nullified the earlier verdict and found her innocent of all charges, paving the way for her veneration as a saint.
St. Joan of Arc is the patron saint of captives, rape victims, soldiers, and France. Her feast day is May 30th.