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The Maid of Orleans

Orleans and Chinon, France are historical towns south of Paris that are central to the story of Joan of Arc. In 1429, while England and France were locked in battle during the 100 Years War (which actually lasted about 120 years), the English invaded French territory in claim to the French crown of Charles VII of France. They set up a siege of the town of Orleans. That is where Joan of Arc, having been called of God to help the French army push the English back toward England, inspired and led the French to victory. In Orleans today a great Cathedral marks the place she prayed during the time of lifting the siege. And to the west of Orleans, lies Chinon, where Joan first met with Prince Charles (who would be crowned, thanks in part to the Maid of Orleans, Charles VII of France), and where Joan was able to convince Charles that her messages from God were genuine, thus securing his permission to let her join the efforts of the French army. Today Joan is celebrated with many monuments to her memory and help for her people.

Mr. Allen, 7th and 8th grade history teacher at ECMS, visited Orleans and Chinon this summer. His interest in this area is related to the teaching about Joan of Arc and the transition from the feudal system of the Middle Ages to Renaissance thinking and experience. Joan of Arc represents for him an emerging awareness of national identity above that of more provincial feudal lords, a connection to an emerging, subjective for of voice of women that would continue to play a greater role in the modern age, and a recognition of the subjective experience of the individual person who could relate to and hear the voice of God without the necessary intermediary of church or priest. All of these, national, gender, and individual self identity would increase in importance during the Renaissance and further ages. Joan of Arc becomes, at least in a symbolic manner, a sign post leading in the direction of our own human experience.

What is your own individual and subjective experience with God? Are you open to His leading? How can we know about these things? We do have our pastors, Christian leaders and friends. Above all we have the Scriptures. In the Bible we are encouraged that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. We are encouraged to consider this, that we can find Him as we seek with all of our heart. But we must be open, give the time, listen, and think for ourselves about God and His Word. We may not be called to such an historic task as the Maid of Orleans, or the Maid of Nazareth (!), but God has a purpose for our lives among our families, friends, and those He brings into our lives. Are we listening? If we take care to pay attention and grow, God is able to deal with the scope of our service to Him!

allen

Entrance to the castle in Chinon, France, where, in 1429, Joan of Arc met with Charles, crown prince of France, and shared with him her visions for God’s purpose for her life. After a short time here, she went to Orleans and helped the French win a significant victory during the Hundred Years War.