“A few years ago I stood on the spot where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. Young Joan of Arc, one of the great heroines in history, became the unlikely standard-bearer for the French army in the Dark Ages, long before the gospel was restored. Joan had the Light of Christ and also the courage to follow its promptings and make a difference. Joan was a peasant girl who could neither read nor write, but she was bright. Long years of war with the English had impoverished and divided her country. At 17, sensing her life had a purpose, she left home, determined to help liberate her oppressed country. Naturally, people scoffed at her ideas and thought she was a little crazy, but in the end she persuaded them to let her have a horse and an escort to go and see the king.
“Young King Charles VII of France had heard about Joan and decided to test her. He slipped into the ranks of the army and let one of his trusted associates occupy the throne. When Joan came into the room, she barely acknowledged the man on the throne, but promptly walked up to Charles and curtsied to him as her king. This so impressed the king that he gave her command over his 12,000 troops. At first the French soldiers did not want to obey her, but when they saw that all who followed her succeeded and all who disregarded her failed, they came to look upon her as their leader.
“Clad in a suit of white armor and flying her own standard, Joan of Arc liberated the besieged city of Orleans in 1429 and defeated the English in four other battles. Twice she was wounded, but each time she recovered and went on fighting. Her orders seemed to be those of a military genius. She marched into the city of Reims and stood with sword and banner in hand while Charles was crowned king. She fought in the Battle of Paris until she was captured at Compiègne by English allies, who sold her to the English for 16,000 francs. She was imprisoned, tried as a heretic, and then burned at the stake in 1431.
“Although this is a sad ending, it does not take away from Joan’s greatness. She was courageous enough to follow the personal inspiration to which all of us are entitled. As the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, ‘I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’
“To other girls in the fifteenth century, Joan of Arc seemed to be very different. Sisters, don’t be afraid to be different in our century! Don’t be afraid to be different, but be as good as you can be… Joan of Arc did not worry about what her friends did, but rather about what she knew she should do.”
James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
“Your Light: A Standard to All Nations,” April 2006 General Conference