Joel 2:29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Studying Joan of Arc was pure joy and helped me see my identity and purpose more clearly. I found Joan to be a great example of all the divine attributes I am trying to more fully implement in my own life and loved learning about her.
How did Joan prepare to receive revelation?
Joan was a faithful pious girl from her youth. She is remembered as immediately kneeling to pray when the bells would chime for evening prayers. She was disciplined and valiant at the understanding of worship and would confess and attend mass as often as possible. She wanted to repent and consistently went to confession to make sure her heart was right with God.
Joan was faithful to the commands of the Lord and did what she was asked to do even though it was not something she would have desired of herself. She thought less of her own comfort and more of obedience to divine command.
In his October 2015 talk “A Plea to my Sisters,” Elder Russell M. Nelson discussed 13 things that the church and Savior need modern righteous women to be. Joan was a righteous example of this quote: “We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.” Joan gave to the Lord her strength by actually going into battle for her country at the command of Angels. She led her armies to victory through the strength of the Lord and called upon Him to help her fulfill all His commands. She had unwavering faith in the things she was taught by the Lord and relied upon Him fully and without doubting. Her leadership was invaluable in guiding her country to freedom from English oppression and takeover. Her voice to the King was necessary for him to take the throne and fulfill his needful place in defending France. Her conviction was irreplaceable in each battle and gave her men and those around her confidence to achieve the impossible.
How was Joan like Joseph Smith?
I found many similarities between Joan and Joseph Smith. They were both taught from on high for 4 years. She was first visited by heavenly messengers at the age of 13 and described her visitor as surrounded by light. She was taught things that older and wiser men didn’t know about war and strategy. She was taught what to do and what to say. She was to wait for the right time and learn until she was of age. She was warned of her own impending death and was in a hurry to fulfill her divine mission before it was too late. She never denied the things she was given by vision and was true to the end to the Lord Jesus Christ. She was valiant in her testimony and was willing to overcome the prejudice of the Church and the pride and arrogance of its leaders. She was fully willing to witness the truth of God regardless of the teachings of her day and testify of truth in all things and in all places. Her witness gave God freedom from the vote and creeds of the Church. He was the supreme King, and Joan would not turn from her first allegiance to Him. One of my favorite quotes from her is, “I cannot revoke anything that has come to me from my visions and revelations, nor will I cease to do everything my Lord commands me to do. And if you tell me that my revelations are illusions or diabolical things or superstitious, I will continue to place everything in the hands of my God, whose commands I have always obeyed. Everything I have done was by God’s command, and in no way could I ever have done the opposite. And if the Church Militant orders me to do the contrary, I would not submit to anyone in the world except Our Lord” (Interrogation in the Prison: Holy Saturday, March 31, 1431).
Joan’s influence is remarkable 600 years after her death; she is still being discussed and revered by many. Donald Spato in his work Joan: the Mysterious Life of the Heretic Who Became a Saint, says “Joan of Arc, with her radical and incandescent confidence in God and her unshakeable belief in His love for the integrity of every nation, continues to claim our attention in the work of historians, philosophers, theologians and biographers; in the tropes of poets, playwrights and novelists; in the creative imagination of painters, composers and filmmakers. Almost six hundred years after her death at the age of nineteen there is no indication that she will quietly disappear.” I love that her testimony and witness still ring down 600 years later and we can still hear truth and light from her voice. Two examples of this include a mural to Saint Joan in the Cathedral of the Madeline in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as when Mark Twain said his historical fiction of her life was his best work (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2874).
Joan, like the stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon, obeyed every word of command from her revelations with exactness. She did what she was told to do and was willing to go forward even when it meant danger or violence to herself. Her obedience is a great sign of her devotion and love for “the King of Heaven.”
Joan was an example of the Young Women values.
Her faith was unwavering in the revelations and commands of the visions she received. She trusted in the King of Heaven and obeyed Him completely and with great trust. Her trust was whole and solid.
Joan showed divine nature by believing that she was a daughter of God and He would protect her and guide her. Her love for Him was pure, innocent and trusting. She showed divine nature through her constant desire to pray and go to confession and mass. One of my favorite stories was of the battle with the English when they attacked the French on the Sabbath. They lined up to go to battle and Joan lined up her men but told them to wait to attack unless they were attacked first, then she had the priests administer the sacrament to each solider in her line. The English waited and then just turned and left. She showed through her example the importance of honoring the Sabbath day and influenced all those men to do the same.
Joan’s life is a witness of individual worth and the power of one individual. Joan showed one person could turn the tide of the English invasion of her country. Only a peasant girl–but with God on her side and with His command to compel her, she could do the impossible and overcome insurmountable odds.
Joan was uneducated by the world’s standards but she showed knowledge of truth. Her statement about her education was that she knew everything her mother could teach her about spinning wool and that there was no one in the neighborhood that could teach her anything she didn’t already know. But her knowledge of strategy and battle was wise beyond her experience or education. One day the leaders above her had tried to trick her into coming to Or’lean a different way than the voices had directed her. As she figured out what had happened she roundly chewed out the commander and said “The counsel of our Lord God is wiser and safer than yours.” She relied on the true source of knowledge and was blessed with greater knowledge than those around her for her trust in that divine source.
She was also able to confound the wise and learned of her day. She responded with great wisdom to several things in the trial that were meant to trap her, but her voices helped her give the right answer. One example was when they asked her if she felt like she was in “God’s good grace.” This question was a trap; if she said “yes,” she would be in trouble for assuming she could know the state of her soul. If she said “no,” they could say she was wicked and evil. So she answered neither. She said, “If I am not in the state of grace, may God put me there—and if I am, may He keep me there.”
The lead prosecutor of her trial was the Bishop Cauchon; to him she said, “You say that you are my judge. Take care about what you are doing, for indeed, I have been sent by God, and you are putting yourself in great spiritual danger. …And as for me, I know that people are sometimes hanged for telling the truth” (Spoto, pg. 141).
Regarding choice and accountability, Joan chose to follow her voices and revelations no matter the cost. She was willing to trust in God and follow His directions with patience and faith in His timing. “At first Joan protested that she was only a poor girl who could neither ride a warhorse or lead men in battle. But she could not for long ignore the directions and she placed her honor and faith in God, Who, she was assured, would supply what she lacked”( Spoto, pg 14).
Joan took her faith and acted out good works. She was able to free the people of Or’lean from a siege that had been going on for many months. She hated to see men killed on either side in battle and would cry and pray over the dead of both sides. She worked tirelessly for the mission she was called to do and was always in a hurry to get things done. She was pushed by her voices to keep going forward.
Integrity is a beautiful quality in Joan. She would not deny her faith and confidence in her eternal Master and was true to the visions she had even to her death. She died one of the most excruciating forms of death ever instituted, and most people who were sentenced to burn were mercifully killed by the executioner before the fire was started. But Joan was not. She was on a high pile of wood to make sure that her death would be an example to the French that were trying to get out from the English oppression, in hopes they would stop rebelling. The crowd that was gathered to watch included her family, and the execution was so brutal that some even fainted as they watched her endure with screams of pain. But she never cursed or swore. She called upon the Savior six times–this is all that she said during the horrific event.
Finally, Joan’s example of virtue. The voices told her that she had to remain virtuous and chaste, and so she wore men’s clothing to protect herself as she rode with soldiers. She was valiant to a promise she made: “I must keep the promise I made to Our Lord, to keep my virginity of body and soul” (Spoto, pg 33).
One Soldier that slept by her said, “I wouldn’t dared have touch her, because of the goodness I saw in her.” Another said, “I had never seen in her the slightest evidence of any wickedness or sin. She was really good, even then we could have called her a Saint.”
The tradition during Joan’s time was that women would follow the soldiers to earn a few coins. Joan insisted that this was an evil practice and told the women that they had to leave her camp “unless the soldiers would marry them.” She was an influence to help protect the virtue of other women as well as her own.
I have wondered to myself why she had to die such an awful death. Why God, whom she trusted implicitly, allowed such an awful scene as her death must have been. This scripture speaking of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith was a comfort to me in this question: D&C 136:39, “Many have marveled because of his death; but it was needful that he should seal his testimony with his blood, that he might be honored and the wicked might be condemned.” And this line from the hymn, Oh How Lovely was the Morning: “But undaunted still he trusted in his Heavenly Father’s care.”
A quote from President Ezra Taft Benson (Nov 1986) is a beautiful summary of the miracles and power that Joan was able to do in France: “Give me a young woman who loves home and family, who has a burning testimony of the (Savior). Give me a young woman who faithfully attends her church meetings. …Give me a young woman who is virtuous and who has maintained her personal purity…and I will give you a young woman who will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity.”
This also reminds me that Joan was able to perform miracles with so little light and knowledge during the time we call the great apostasy. She was able to see Heavenly visitors and learn gospel truths that the church of her day didn’t know. We are so blessed with the knowledge, light and truth of the restoration, and how much more should be the miracles we are able to perform for the Lord through our faithful obedience and virtuous lives.