reading vita sackville-west’s biography of joan of arc and wondering if it means i believe in god now. reading vs-w’s biography of joan of arc and thinking god takes the form of girls who hear voices. this is the story of joan of arc: she was a peasant girl whose room at home was comparable to the prison cell she later occupied when she was caught by the english. at the age of 14 she started hearing the voices of saints who told her that she would lead france to victory over england and put an end to a hundred-year war. at 17 she ran away from home to fulfil her destiny; she did not say goodbye to anyone. the next time she saw her family again she would be at the side of king charles vii. she took orleans. she took jargeau, beaugency, reims. maybe this part of the story you already know? but did you know that she was betrayed by her own people and the aunt of the french nobleman who sold her for ransom threw herself at his feet and begged him not to. at 19, after being caught, she tried to take her own life by jumping off the beaurevoir castle. i was born in 1996. the first time she faced the stake she admitted to everything at the very last minute, she confessed to being a hoax a liar a heretic a simple stupid girl who pretended to hear voices a witch. they shaved her head and made her wear “women’s” clothes. later that night, her voices returned to tell her that she had done a very wrong thing, and that in saving her own life she had damned herself. the second time she faced the stake, the church branded her a “relapsed heretic”. she was burned in a foreign land, dying for a country that had sold her for 6000 francs. her executioner appeared later at the houses of those who sentenced her, scared & repentant, convinced that he too was damned.