Oil Dedicated to Ven Marthe Robin
The Ven Marthe Robin is dedicated to the French 20th century mystic and stigmatic.
Venerable Marthe was a French Roman Catholic mystic and stigmatist. She was the foundress of the fr:Foyers de charité (“Charity Homes”) association. Marthe became bedridden when she was 21 years old, and remained so until her death. According to witnesses she ate nothing for many years apart from receiving Holy Eucharist.
The Robin family’s farm.
Marthe Robin was born into a peasant farming family on 13 March 1902. She was the sixth and last child of Joseph-Michel Robin and Amélie-Célestine Robin. She helped out on the family farm and participated in village life. Her personality is described by some witness as being “a happy young girl. Marthe was open to the future, helpful, and sometimes mischievous…”. Her parents were non-practicing Catholics, Marthe was drawn to prayer at an early age. She said: (“I always really loved God when I was a little girl. I have always prayed throughout my life”.
In 1903, Robin and her older sister, Clémence, both caught typhoid fever, of which Clémence died. Though close to death for a time, Marthe Robin recovered. Nevertheless, she had fragile health throughout the rest of her childhood.
Robin fell sick again on 1 December 1918. The doctors who examined her thought she had a brain tumor. She fell into a coma which lasted four days. When she came out of the coma, she seemed better for several weeks. Then the sickness got worse, until she was partially paralyzed. She also had eyesight problems, and lost her sight altogether for several months. In April–May 1921, she went into remission. This was followed by several crises, which culminated in the definitive paralysis of her lower body from May 1928 onwards.
Robin continued to live on the farm, and her family and friends became her carers. Like many sick people, she suffered from the incomprehension of those around her. Her mobility problems, combined with hypersensitivity to light obliged her to become a recluse in a dark bedroom.
Robin’s sickness strengthened her faith. In 1925, she wrote an Act of abandon and love to the will of God. She desired to consecrate herself to Christ. Also, from then on wards loved the Eucharist more and more.
Robin’s spiritual life was also marked by mystical phenomena. The testimonies of friends and family, priests, bishops and lay people who met her are recorded in the diocesan enquiry (1986–1996). Also, on the basis of this Bernard Peyrou, Postulator of the Cause for Beatification has written a biography of Robin. The authenticity of these testimonies in the eyes of the Catholic Church is currently being examined as part of the Cause of Beatification.
On 25 March 1922, according to the testimony of her sister Alice, Robin had a personal vision of the Virgin Mary. Following the testimonies gathered by the 1986 diocesan enquiry, this vision was followed by others. She reported that Christ appeared to her on the night of 4 December 1928. Marthe confided about this vision to Père Faure, her parish priest. She then took the decision to give her life entirely to God and to unite herself with his sufferings through prayer and love. From then on, her spiritual life was more and more centered on the Passion of Christ and the Eucharist. She received regular visits from several local priests.
Lived on the Eucharist
From 1930 onwards, Robin ate no food other than the consecrated host. This (unsought) fast lasted until her death fifty-one years later. Her stigmata first appeared in early October 1930. In October–November 1931 she started to relive the Passion of Christ every Friday. Also, this too lasted until her death in 1981. Many friends, family members and numerous priests witnessed this.
Robin herself appealed for discretion concerning these phenomena. She encouraged Christians not to focus on them. Five successive bishops of the diocese of Valence to which Marthe Robin belonged, as well as being prudent, all said they knew Robin and that she had never come across as somebody to be mistrusted.
On 3 December 1928, two Franciscan priests, Père Jean and Père Marie-Bernard, visited Robin. Père Marie-Bernard reassured her and talked to her about spiritual vocation. In 1928, she entered the Franciscan Third order.
Père Faure, Robin’s parish priest, became her spiritual director in the same year. He did not relish this role because he could not personally relate to mystical experience. In 1936, Marthe Robin met Georges Finet, a priest from Lyon who took over Père Faure’s role. Marthe’s relationship with Père Finet was close and continued for the rest of her life.
Last days, death and funeral
In early February 1981, Robin had a coughing attack that became more and more acute. On Thursday 5 February, she had a high fever. That evening, like every Thursday, she prayed to be united to Christ in his Passion. Members of the Foyer de Charité said the Rosary around her bed, then left her alone. The following day, at about 5 a.m., when Pere Finet went into her room, he found Robin unconscious on the floor, near her bed. She had died, probably of exhaustion, in the early hours of Friday 6 February. Père Colon, a medical doctor, and Dr Andolfatto, the doctor of Châteauneuf, confirmed her death. No autopsy was carried out. Her funeral took place on 12 February. Four bishops and over 200 priests attended. Her tomb is in the cemetery of St Bonnet.