April 1429. Vaucouleurs, France.
Cate was afraid. This was her first birth and her mother Isabelle was gone. The
pain in her swollen stomach was like a blacksmith‘s molten poker. Her fever had not
broken in the last two days. The midwife had told her that this kind of pain was normal,
but she didn‘t think so. She knew that girls her age often died in childbirth, but she
wasn‘t worried about herself. Her Savior would take care of her if anything happened.
Cate was worried about the baby. If the baby should die before being baptized…. No,
she could not think of such things. She stretched out on the small wooden cot, trying to
get comfortable. Each position was worse than the last. Her white cotton robe was
saturated. The midwife tried to calm her by rubbing her wrinkled hands on her neck and
pressing wet strips of cloth onto her forehead. Cate wished that her sister….
Her thought was interrupted by an agonizing convulsion of pain. Her scream caused
villagers in the fields to turn their heads. Blood started pouring out between her legs.
She grabbed the midwife‘s blue shirt in desperation. ―If it is a boy, I want his name to be
Jacquemin, after my brother….‖ Cate didn‘t get time to express her name preference if
the child was a girl. Before she blacked out, all Cate could see was the grimaced look of
concern on the face of the midwife.
Ann, the midwife, had seen cases like this before. The placenta had ripped from its
moorings. She acted quickly, using a metal tool to pry the infant‘s head through the birth
canal. Seconds counted. She expertly removed the umbilical cord from around the
child‘s neck and the mucous from the child‘s mouth. The infant looked a little blue, but
within a few seconds, the infant gasped and began wailing. Success. The infant was a
girl! She had beautiful red hair, like Cate‘s sister. She placed the child and the
umbilical cord in a pre-arranged bassinette. Her assistant Marie attended to the child
while Ann attempted to save the mother, but there was not much she could do. Cate had
lost a lot of blood. She kept placing water on the girl‘s face, but after a few minutes, she
realized Cate was lost. Her soul was now with Jesus Christ. She sent for the local priest.
Jean Colin, Cate‘s new husband, was a young tax collector for the duchy of Bar. He
was the son of the Mayor of the nearby town of Greux. He was not a horrible man, and
he had his tender moments, but for the most part, he was someone who thought of
himself first and everyone else last. He had not even wanted children, seeing them as a
nuisance and an expense, but his beautiful wife Cate had insisted that God‘s plan was for
them to have children. Colin had fallen for her as soon as he had seen her pale cheek, her
long blonde tresses, and her beautiful blue eyes. Cate‘s father was a tax collector like
him, and her dowry had been sufficient. She was by far the fairest young girl in
Domremy. His hope was to move to Chinon or even Paris someday, where he might
move up the ranks and improve his position.
Ann left the birthing room and went out to see Colin, who was nervously waiting in
―I am terribly sorry, Monsieur Colin, but your wife has passed.‖
―What?‖ demanded Colin. ―What do you mean she has passed?‖
―Sir, the Lord has taken her. There was nothing we could do. She had lost so much