Marthe Robin (1902-1981)

Childhood and youth

Marthe was born in Châteauneuf de Galaure (Drôme department, France) on March 13, 1902, into a peasant family. She stayed in school until she was 13, and also took catechism classes, even though the region was strongly marked by anti-clericalism.

In November 1918, after a fall in her kitchen, Marthe remained partially paralyzed and bedridden, until 1921. After this time of mysterious illness, the Virgin Mary appeared to her for the first time. Marthe's health somewhat improved.

Marthe, the saints of Carmel, and the Third Order of St Francis

Marthe’s health issues returned and worsened, preventing her from entering Carmel, but she remained marked throughout her life by the spirituality of both Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Therese of Lisieux.

One year, she was preparing to participate as a patient in the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. When she learned that another patient wanted to go, she decided to give up her place. After this act of self-renunciation, she felt a great inner peace. On October 15, 1925, feast of St Teresa of Avila, she pronounced her great act of abandonment to the will of God, giving Him her memory, intelligence, will, body and senses, her mind and its faculties, her heart and her feelings.

Later, St Therese of Lisieux appeared to her three times, and announced that she must continue her mission in the world.

On March 25, 1928, full paralysis of the lower body set in, forcing Marthe to keep to her bed. On February 2nd, 1929, the paralysis reached her arms and hands. As a result, she lived in constant pain, not being able to eat, drink, or sleep. From 1930 onwards and until her death, Robin ate no food other than the holy Eucharist.

On the advice of a Capuchin, she entered the Third Order of St Francis, and in 1930 became a consecrated virgin.

Marthe and compassion

On October 2, 1930, Marthe received the stigmata. From that moment on, every Friday, she experienced in her body the Passion of Jesus.

Marthe did not speak of her stigmata—she only said that Jesus asked her to be "like him."

Those who knew her called her "little Marthe," because she was so humble. She loved her littleness because it brought her Jesus’ support.

"Jesus experiences all of our sufferings. He wants to add flowers to all our crosses."

Marthe and Mary

It was from the consideration of the Trinity that Marthe discovered the incomparable role of Mary: "The Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—await from the lips of their beloved the virginal reply, to let down in her the Breath that animates them eternally." This striking shortcut led Marthe, like Saint Louis de Montfort, to repeat every day and strongly recommend "the consecration to Jesus Christ, the Wisdom incarnate, through the care of Mary."

Crucified with Jesus, Marthe received Mary from him as a Mother. Every Friday, before the end of the "Passion," Mary appeared to her, standing at the foot of her bed. Marthe stopped moaning and said to her friend Father Finet: "Father, Mother is here!"

Marthe's presence in the world

After persuading her pastor, Fr. Léon Faure, to start a small school (opened in 1934), Marthe received from God an important project that she entrusted to a priest from Lyon, Fr. Georges Finet. The latter brought her a painting of Mary Mediatrix of All Graces.

On February 10, 1936 (first vespers of Our Lady of Lourdes), she asked Fr. Finet "on behalf of God" to start the first Foyer de Charité. Encouraged by his superiors and the Bishop of Valence, Mgr Pic, Fr. Finet preached the first retreat at Châteauneuf de Galaure on September 7-13, 1936.

Marthe received the visits of an increasing number of people of all walks: children, old people, atheists, fervent Christians, rich and poor, manual workers and students, bishops, founders of communities, politicians, married and divorced people. She particularly understood the sick. She listened to everyone out of love. Oh, how dear we are to the heart of Jesus!

The Foyers de Charité

The Foyers of Light, Charity and Love highlight the importance of the mystical priesthood of Christians and that of community life in the Church.

A Foyer of Light, Charity and Love is a community of baptized people who, with a priest, share their material, intellectual and spiritual possessions, as in the early days of the Church. The main activity is to spread the teachings of Light of the Gospel through spiritual retreats for five full days.

Today, Marthe’s influence extends well beyond the Foyers.

Raymond PEYRET, Robin (Marthe) in the Dictionnaire de spiritualité XIII, Beauchêne Paris 1988