Blessed Joan was born to a noble family in France. As a child, it was said that her prayers had saved a neighbor boy, Robert de Sille, after he fell into a pond and nearly drowned. When Joan turned sixteen, she and Robert were married. Although they elected to maintain a celibate relationship, they were apparently a devoted couple and together they adopted and raised three orphans. During an invasion by the English, Robert was taken captive and held for ransom. He managed to escape, and afterward he and Joan devoted themselves to the ransom of other prisoners.
This charity infuriated Robert’s family. Upon Robert’s death in 1362, they expelled Joan from their house. For several years she supported herself as best she could, eventually learning to prepare medicines and becoming a Franciscan tertiary. But for a while she was reduced to living in pigsties and dog kennels. When her in-laws eventually restored her property, she gave it all to the Carthusians, and at the age of fifty-seven retired to a small room in Tours, where she devoted herself to prayer and works of mercy. Though some considered her mad, many others recognized her evident holiness. She was known for her gift of prophecy and her special dedication to prisoners – whether criminals or captives of war. At one time, she even persuaded the king to release all the prisoners of Tours. She died on March 28, 1414, and was beatified in 1871.