Joan of Arc – her beginnings (1)

 

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As a child Joan of Arc’s local community knew her by the name, “Jeannette.” That later became what we know in English today as “Joan” after she left her small village on the borderlands of the Holy Roman Empire and ventured on her mission into what was left of France during that period of the Hundred Years War between England and France.

Joan was born in Domrémy, which essentially was one community with Greux, and it was the latter that held the principle community church.

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Joan was born on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1412 to Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle R0mée and baptized in the church of Domrémy by a priest she recalled years later and to the best of her ability as Jean Minet. Joan had many godparents based on what she remembered her mother saying, and by her own recollection named an Agnes, another “Jeanne” (Joan in English), and a Sibille as godmothers, along with a Jean Lingue and Jean Barre as godfathers.

Mother Isabelle taught Joan her Catholic faith, particularly the Pater Noster (Our Father), the Ave Maria (Hail Mary), and the Credo (Creed). From a work and chore standpoint, Joan boasted mischievously of her ability to out-sew and out-spin any of the ladies in the region. She confessed her sins often, if not to her parish priest, to any who could hear them, notably to the begging friars in the nearby town of Neufchâteau. She received the sacrament of the Eucharist at a minimum every  Easter.

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Joan’s account of her own beginnings are fully confirmed by the testimonies of many who knew her as a child, for example, Jean Moreau, a farmer at Greux and one of Joan’s godfathers, along with Simon Musnier, Mengette (Marguerite), and Hauviette who were playmates, just to name a few.

These many eye witness accounts of Joan’s early years reveal a very normal life, though in very unsettling times, and a most pious and devoted spirit. Joan gave alms to the poor, cared for the sick, and worked very hard at her chores, including taking care of the livestock, all the while maintaining a very pleasing demeanor. Her priest spoke of her to others, at the time he knew her (and not simply in reflection many years later), as the best and most devoted Catholic he had. She would visit often the nearby hermitage of Our Lady of Bermont, founded in honor of the Blessed Virgin, with candles or flowers. Other accounts point to her being so pious and observant that the other children sometimes made fun of her.

Joan of Arc was raised a good, hard-working girl and a pious, devoted Catholic.

Source: Joan of Arc – By herself and her witnesses, Régine Pernoud, pp. 15-20

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