In 1425, at the young age of thirteen, voices spoke to a French teenager named Joan telling her to provide aid to Charles VII of France in his plight against the English during the Hundred Years’ War. Mounted on her stead, this teenage girl led the French forces to drive the English troops out of Orleans.
The ‘Maid of Orleans' continued her fight against the English until her capture in 1430 when a group of Burgundians turned her over to the British. On May 30, 1431, the British charged Joan with heresy and burned her at the stake. On July 7, 1456, the church and government absolved Joan of her crimes, and centuries later in 1909, Pope Leo XIII beatified Joan. Shortly after, in 1920, he canonized the warrior for her outstanding virtues. The presence of St. Joan, the Maid of Orleans, drifted through many centuries, over the ocean to a special place in the sister city of her hometown, New Orleans.
Originally cast by French sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet in the late 1800s, the statue of Joan that can be found in the French Quarter entered the world as one of nine similar statues. With no destination in mind, Joan patiently waited in a French warehouse until her day of liberation. Adventure finally found her in 1958 when a New York Company purchased the warehouse where Joan sat, longing for a change of scenery. While her warehouse mates traveled to places like Melbourne, Quebec, and Philadelphia, Joan traveled to one of the liveliest cities in the world, New Orleans. Though relocated to a lively city, Joan languished in storage once again, this time in a New Orleans warehouse for approximately fourteen years while the city struggled to pay her $36,500 price tag. Even though French President Charles de Gaulle paid her ransom in 1964, she remained in the dreary warehouse until 1972. Joan emerged under the Southern sun at the Rivergate Convention Center.
Dwarfed by the two giant buildings that surrounded her, Joan never gave up and stood proudly in her New Orleans Business District home. Temporarily disappearing in 1984, Joan reappeared in time for the World's Fair. Finally, in the fresh air, Joan enjoyed her freedom until her recapture by a lengthy legal battle in the 1990s when the Harrah’s Company sought to knock her off her pedestal in the Business District. Supported by her new troops - government officials, historians, and the community - Joan charged into battle once more. In October 1999, a triumphant Joan advanced to her current location in the Place de France in the French Market.
Rearing back on her stead, Joan represents the strength, power, and perseverance of New Orleans, a city that no foe may defeat.