GARCHES, France (AP) — A team of experts plans a series of tests to determine whether Joan of Arc’s supposed remains — a rib bone and some skin — may indeed have belonged to the 15th-century French heroine burned at the stake after a trial for heresy.
It is thought that the ashes of Joan of Arc, now a saint and a legend, were thrown into the River Seine. However, a few remains were reportedly recovered from the pyre where the 19-year-old warrior was burned alive.
The tests, which will take six months, will not be able to say with certainty that the remains are Joan of Arc’s, because there is no known DNA sample from her to compare the bone and skin against, said Dr. Philippe Charlier of the Raymond-Poincare Hospital in Garches, west of Paris.
But the analyses will determine with "absolute certitude" if the remains are not hers, he added at a news conference.
The complexities are numerous. Charlier said Joan of Arc was actually burned three times May 30, 1431, following her trial in the Normandy town of Rouen. She initially died of smoke inhalation and when she was burned a second time, internal organs were not fully consumed by the flames. Nothing was said to remain after the third cremation except her ashes.
The rib bone measuring some 15 centimetres is wrapped in a blackish substance, and is "remarkably well preserved," said Charlier.
"We will first have to assure that this rib corresponds with a 19-year-old woman," with DNA testing used to determine the sex, he added. [Source]