Marthe Robin

(1902 – 1981)

Declared “Venerable” by the Pope




How has Marthe Robin been declared “Venerable”?

The beginning of the process, five years after her death

Marthe Robin died on the 6th Feb., 1981. Five years later, the Foyers of Charity asked the bishop of Valence, Mgr. Marchand, to open the process of beatification. The bishop appointed Fr. Ravanel, a member of the Foyers de Charité, as postulator of the cause. Thus the diocesan investigation with a view to the beatification of the “Servant of God” began in 1986.

The diocesan investigation

Two experts (a theologian and a historian) were nominated to conduct this investigation. The first element to take into account was Marthe Robin’s reputation for sanctity among the Christian population. Then between 1988 and 1996 more than 120 witnesses and experts were consulted. When the investigation was wrapped up, a 17000 page dossier, comprising a critical biography, statements of witnesses, all Marthe’s writings and other documents, was handed in to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints in Rome. At this stage Marthe Robin was called Servant of God.

The examination by the Roman Congregation

On the 24th April 1998, a decree of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints confirmed the validity of the diocesan investigation. Rome then proceeded to prepare documentation to be examined first by historians and theologians, for their critical views, then by the general promoter of the Faith – formerly known as the Devil’s Advocate – whose role is to prepare possible arguments against the beatification or canonisation. Last of all comes the discussion among the cardinals and bishops. The final editing of the Positio, a 2000 page summary of the beatification dossier presenting the results of this diocesan investigation, was completed on the 6th May 2010.

By proclaiming Marthe Robin “Venerable”, the Church offers the way she lived the theological virtues (faith, hope and charity) and the cardinal virtues (justice, prudence, courage and temperance) as a model for Christians. She recognises the exemplary value of the life of Marthe, who gave herself totally to God and to others without any trace of egoism, meeting the challenging situations of life with a power beyond the purely human.

Heroic nature of her virtues

It was then for the committee of cardinals and bishops to decide when to submit the case to the Pope with a view to the declaration of the heroic nature of her virtues, that is “the perfection of human and Christian love, and its expression throughout her life.” Marthe Robin was declared Venerable by Pope Francis on 7th Nov. 2014.

What are the next steps?

Recognition of a miracle

The postulator for the Cause for Beatification, Fr. Bernard Peyrous, will soon hand in to Rome a dossier presenting a miracle obtained through the intercession of Marthe Robin. This miracle was first of all the subject of a diocesan investigation, and will be studied by the Roman Congregation for the Causes of Saints with the help of witnesses, documents and scientific expertise.


If the commission in charge of this examination recognises the validity of this miracle, the Pope will then be able to decide to declare her “Blessed” on a date of his choosing.


Marthe Robin (1902-1981) is one of the great French spiritual figures of the 20th century. Struck with illness from her youth on, this farmer ’s daughter received in her house more than 100,000 people. Paralysed in her room for more than 50 years, she has nonetheless, more than thirty years after her death, gained an international influence.

A peasant girl of the Drôme region

Born on the 13th March 1902 at Châteauneuf-de-Galaure, a village in the Drôme region, Marthe Robin was a daughter of the soil. From farming stock, she lived by the rhythm of the seasons and the work of the farm, close to nature and animals. Despite fragile health, connected with the typhoid which she contracted at the age of one, she walked some distance to school, to catechism or to undertake farm work, like all the children of her age.

A simple, joyful and pious childhood

Marthe received a Christian education. Baptised on the 5th April 1902, she made her first holy communion at the age of ten. She developed an intense personal relationship with God. Full of common sense, she joined a deep spirituality to a realistic attitude to all trials thanks to her rural upbringing. By nature she was playful and quick to enjoy a joke.

Struck by sickness from her youth

As an adolescent, Marthe was struck by encephalitis. She suffered unbearable pains, fainting fits and paralytic episodes without any precise diagnosis being established. The illness developed gradually, one step forwards, two steps back. At the age of 17, her legs became paralysed; at the age of 28 a second attack led to total paralysis of her digestive tract; a third struck her ocular nerves in 1939, at the age of 37. Light gave her great suffering, and she had to live in darkness.

She wanted to give meaning to her life despite her suffering.

Marthe struggled to regain health. She did needlework in order to buy medicine. She took thermal cures, but in vain. After having hoped for a cure, Marthe experienced discouragement and loneliness. People in the area were taken aback by this unknown illness and stopped coming to see her. But in 1928, in the very midst of her suffering she underwent an interior change. In the course of a visit from two priests, she had an experience of the infinite love of God for her. This intimate spiritual experience changed her life profoundly.

Given to others till death

Right up to her death in 1981, Marthe would never again leave the darkness of her little room in the farmhouse of “La Plaine.” There she received more and more visitors, drawn by her ability to listen and to counsel, and her radiant spiritual influence. In fact Marthe had an intense mystical life. In her flesh and in her soul she experienced an ever greater union with God. In the course of her life she would receive visits from over 100,000 people, and her influence stretched beyond the borders of France and the Catholic Church.


Marthe Robin received and counselled over 100,000 people, including priests, bishops, intellectuals, and founders of communities. She had a profound influence on the Church and the world of her times, right up to the present moment.

A modern vision

In 1932, the Lord made known to Marthe that through her He wanted to create a new work in response to the needs of contemporary society. After beginning with the creation of a school in the village of Châteauneuf in 1934, she founded the first “Foyer of Charity” in 1936 with the help of Fr. Georges Finet, a priest of Lyon. These Foyers of Charity are a visionary work for our times: a place of prayer and welcome run by single people, couples and priests living in community. More than thirty years later, the Second Vatican Council would stress the dignity and responsibility of all the baptised in the mission of the Church, as well as the universal call to holiness.

A new inspiration for the Church.

After the Second World War, many initiatives sprang up in the French Church as it sought to connect with a world in transition. Marthe followed this movement and encouraged it by receiving, for example, Fr. Epagneul (founder of the rural missionary Brothers), Little Sister Madeleine of Jesus (foundress of the Little Sisters of Charles de Foucauld), or Fr. Talvas (founder of The Nest, to help prostitutes out of their predicament). Marthe was always there to listen and full of good advice.

New movements and communities appeared after Vatican Two. Several of their founders came to meet Marthe Robin, who supported this new springtime in the Church by her prayer. She played a very important role in the birth or development of some of them. That is why she is recognised as an important spiritual figure in the renewal of the Church.

A spiritual figure of the twentieth century

In the course of her life, Marthe Robin received in her room over 100,000 people. Actresses and quite simple people, ministers and lorry drivers, composers, journalists, local farmers, numerous priests and bishops… she received and listened to such different kinds of visitors.

During the Second World War, Marthe began to give advice to several great theologians. Frs. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Paul Philippe and André Feuillet came to see this little peasant woman who couldn’t even pass her school leaving certificate because of her health problems. They came away conquered by her, going so far as to modify or improve their theological positions.

Marthe Robin also had great friendships with intellectuals of the period such as Paul-Louis Couchoud, a literary figure of great stature, medical doctor and notorious unbeliever up till his conversion, or the philosopher Jean Guitton of the Académie Française.


Marthe Robin had intense faith, and experienced numerous mystical phenomena which she was always very reticent about, but which contributed to her influence.

An intense mystical life

At the beginning of her sickness, Marthe Robin had a vision of Our Lady which supported and comforted her. In 1928, it was an apparition of Christ which would shake up her life. She then took the decision to “hand herself over completely to God” and to “offer her sufferings” in union with him by prayer and love. Her spirituality became more and more centered on the passion of Christ and the Eucharist, with a great closeness to Our Lady. She embarked on a veritable spiritual battle with the forces of evil.

From the 1930s onwards, every Friday Marthe Robin relived the Passion of Christ, first of all spiritually, later in her flesh. In fact she received the stigmata, that is, the wounds reproducing those of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

The Eucharist her only food

The progressive paralysis of her digestive tract prevented Marthe from eating and drinking. However, she did not die. Each week, the only food she could swallow was the host she received. Holy Communion became her sole food. For Catholics, the “Body of Christ” received in Communion gives life to the soul and even affects the life of the body. Marthe Robin experienced the power of the sacrament of the Eucharist in a very special way.

“I want to cry out to those who ask me if I eat, that I eat more than them, for I am fed by the Eucharist of the blood and flesh of Jesus. I would like to tell them that it is they who arrest and block the effects of this food in themselves.”

Inspired words

Many witnesses to conversations with Marthe demonstrate her unique gift of Counsel, her exceptional memory, and her immense compassion. People entrusted many prayer intentions to her as well. The power of her intercession is obvious: even some desperate situations have been resolved and set right after she prayed.

Her numerous reflections on the future of the Church or of France have sometimes been taken as prophecies, but she always rejected this term, preferring a more spiritual vision of the future which always remains in God’s hands.


A witness of hope

The life of Marthe is a hymn of joy, precisely in the midst of a life full of trials and sufferings. Those who came to see her were often struck by the joy and serenity that they found in her. Her peals of spontaneous laughter sometimes filled her little room. When lived in God and offered in love, suffering is not necessarily a blockage. Marthe’s life united the cross and the joy. By placing her suffering in that of Christ, Marthe gave it meaning and transfigured it.

Witness of faith

For Marthe, baptism is, in the life of every Christian, the beginning of what she called “intimate life with God.”. This sacrament brings with it everything that is necessary for a rich and intense Christian life, with the knowledge of the Faith and with prayer. This life is not reserved for a special category of Christians; it is available to all. Baptism is a springboard to holiness and intimacy with God.

“Our faith must be simple and transparent, pious and intelligent. We must study and reflect if we are to develop convictions and firm ideas, if we are to take the trouble to get to the bottom of ourselves and our beliefs.”

Marthe had a very close, concrete and affectionate personal relationship with Our Lady, who often showed herself to her. The motherhood of Our Lady in respect of each one is a reflection of the love of God the Father.

Witness of love

At the heart of Marthe Robin’s life there is this passion for the love of God, this ardent desire to make him known as he truly is. Marthe knows herself to be deeply loved by God. She believes it, in spite of everything, in spite of the development of her illness: He will never abandon her. That is the basis of her joy.

“I would like to be everywhere at once to tell the world over and over again how good is the good God, how much he loves us, and shows his tenderness and compassion to us all.”

Marthe has a very positive vision of the human being. She knew how much we are worth in God’s eyes: every person is a child of God, and Jesus has shed his blood for each one. Her own experience and the way she welcomed those who came to see her testify to the grandeur and the dignity of each human being, whatever their life consists of, whatever their weaknesses and limitations. This love and respect for every human being, because she knows them all to be loved by God, was apparent in her way of welcoming those who came to her.