THE ICON: Joan of Arc
THE LEGACY: Truth be told, Joan of Arc never set foot in New Orleans. Indeed, the martyred warrior saint lived and died some 300 years before the founding of the American city. But affection for the so-called Maid of Orleans — a moniker bestowed upon her for her heroics during England’s 1429 siege of the French city after which New Orleans was named — still runs deep in the Crescent City. Part of that is because Joan, a revered French national hero and a Catholic saint, stands as a cultural touchstone both to the city’s Gallic heritage and its rich Catholic traditions. But part of it also is because Joan of Arc is an easy-to-embrace female action hero, a gender-defying medieval badass who — like the spirit of New Orleans — was devout, determined and unbowed in the face of long odds. Even more impressive than the gleaming golden statue of her that looks out over Decatur Street in the French Quarter, Joan of Arc in 2009 became the recipient of arguably the highest honor the people of New Orleanians can bestow: She got a Mardi Gras krewe named after her.
THE ARTIST: Saegan Swanson
THE INSPIRATION: “Begone, or I will make you go.” — Joan of Arc, to the English invaders of France during the Hundred Years’ War