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The legendary Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on this day in history nearly 600 years ago at the Place du Vieux-Marche in Rouen. The 19-year-old has inspired many over the years not only because of her victories in battle during the Hundred Years War, but also for staying true to her religious beliefs. LDS general authorities have often spoken about the Maid of Orléans, encouraging teenagers and young adults to take courage by her example.
• In a January 2010 issue of the New Era, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked youths to stay true to the gospel, quoting Joan of Arc’s final words in a play: “One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it, and then it’s gone. But to surrender what you are, and live without belief — that’s more terrible than dying — more terrible than dying young.” Happiness in life comes from “living it the right way for the right reasons—reasons that are eternal, reasons that matter in this life and in the next,” said Elder Holland.
• The late President James E. Faust, a counselor in the First Presidency, was so impressed by his visit to the place where Joan of Arc was burned that he spoke of his experience in an April 2006 general conference address to young women. “Joan had the Light of Christ and also the courage to follow its promptings and make a difference,” he said. Her story, he continued, was one of greatness. “She was courageous enough to follow the personal inspiration to which all of us are entitled,” he said. “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.”
• During a Worldwide Devotional to LDS young adults, President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, entreated millennials to become the leaders they were meant to be.
“Thankfully, we have superb models to follow,” he said. Great leaders “such as Napoleon, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and others” have inspired the world, he continued. But first and foremost, President Nelson urged young adults to not forget the leadership of the prophets of the LDS Church. “I urge you to study the lives and teachings of these 16 prophets of God,” he said. “That study will change your life.”
• In her address, “Stand Up, Lead Out” in 1985, Young Women General President Ardeth G. Kapp asked young women to be as dedicated to their beliefs as Joan of Arc was. “Her whole soul seemed to yearn towards God and her country. … At a tender age, she committed to stand up and lead out,” she said. “Your tests are different today, more subtle. … It may not be popular. It may be scary. You may have some fears. But this is no ordinary time, and you are no ordinary youth.”
• Emeritus general authority Elder H. Burke Peterson spoke of Joan of Arc’s military prowess in a 1975 Brigham Young University devotional.
“Joan of Arc was the only person of either sex who ever held supreme command over a great national army at the age of 17,” he told BYU students. “She was perhaps one of the few entirely unselfish persons whose name holds a high place in history. … She was truthful when lying was the ordinary speech of man. She was honest when honesty was a lost virtue.”
• In BYUtv’s docudrama on Joan of Arc, which originally aired in November 2015, Elder Holland and Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé talk about the heroine’s great faith and conviction, reported this Deseret News article. “For a boy growing up in France, she was a great model for young people because of her unique character,” said Caussé in the docudrama. “She was surrounded by men who were rough and sometimes disrespectful towards women. But she was committed to stay faithful and worthy because there was a condition for her to receive the guidance she needed from God.”
Elder Holland said that Joan of Arc serves as a model for young women today. “It underscores that a young woman could do that then and could do it now, could do it anytime,” he said. Most importantly, Joan of Arc is to be believed, he continued. “Whatever else Joan’s story is, it’s a story of faith. … I think we take her at her word. I think we accept her declaration. That’s the very least we can offer her. And we owe it to her.”
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