Many Catholic churches in France seem to have a statue somewhere of Saint Jeanne d'Arc, or as you might know her, Joan of Arc. Sacre Coeur in Montmartre has two of them: a small one to the right as you enter the church where there is also a beautiful stained glass window that tells her story; and the second statue is one of the two enormous riders on horseback that flank the steps on the exterior. Even the Pantheon, which started as a church but which was converted to a non-religious burying place for France's great men (and Marie Curie) has some amazing murals depicting scenes from Joan's extraordinary life.
I'm partial to this contemporary statue in Notre Dame. I'm not Catholic so I don't pray to saints as a rule, but I seem to have an affinity with Joan. Maybe it's because my middle name is actually Jeanne (though my family pronounces it like "Jeen"). Or maybe it's that I admire strong women, and Joan was as strong a woman as we could ever find anywhere. And she was only 17 when she had visions, fought wars, put a French king back in charge and reunited France before her/the King's enemies burned her as a heretic.
So when I was in Notre Dame last Sunday, I lit a candle (the one to the right in the photo) and asked Joan for a favor: to protect my nephew Steven from all harm in Afghanistan and to bring him home safely to his wife and our family sooner rather than later.
I figure Joan understands warriors, so who better to ask for a little extra help?