The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century
HE IS RISEN !
N° 150 – April 2015
Director : Brother Bruno Bonnet‑Eymard
THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT MARTHE ROBIN,
A MYSTERY OF THE APOCALYPSE
A 17,000 page dossier concerning the life and works of the famous French mystic who was born in 1902 and died in 1981 has been analysed by Roman authorities. At the end of this study, the theologians issued a decree acknowledging the heroic nature of her virtues. Pope Francis signed it on November 7, 2014. A miracle has been accepted ; there is no longer anything that precludes her beatification.
Whatever may be thought of this or future miracles, they will always fall well short of the permanent miracle of her life.
THE GREATEST SAINT OF ALL TIMES.
Marthe Robin outshines and by far the most extraordinary of our Catholic mystics.
- She neither ate nor drank (inedia) for more than fifty years ! Her only food was the Eucharist that she received only once a week (on rare occasions twice,) and in a miraculous manner since she was physically unable to swallow.
- Stigmatised since 1930, she relived Christ’s Passion every week. This was followed by a period of ecstasy, which must not be mistaken for sleep, since Christ in person imposed on her the penance of never sleeping again.
- This mystic was also a seriously ill person. After having contracted a lethargic encephalitis in 1918, her legs (1928) and arms (1929) remained paralysed.
- In 1940, quadriplegic, incapable of eating, and also deprived of sleep (agrypnia) she asked to make the sacrifice of her eyesight in expiation for the sins of the world. Father Finet, her spiritual director, accepted. Marthe became blind. Nevertheless, since her eyes remained very sensitive to light, she lived in obscurity from that time on, without ever again attending the Holy Sacrifice of Mass.
- Marthe Robin had apparitions of the Blessed Virgin for sixty years. The tender intimacy of her relations with Our Lady is beyond compare with that of the most famous seers : Saint Catherine Labouré, Saint Bernadette or the little children of Fatima. The Blessed Virgin would often caress her, calling her “ my treasure. ” She would help her to finish her pieces of embroidery ; She would light a candle on stormy days so that she would not be afraid, etc.
- The Devil’s assaults on the Curé of Ars are beyond compare with the agony that he would make Marthe endure every week throughout her life. When the Demon would throw her on the ground, it was the Blessed Virgin who would pick her up and put her back into her bed, etc.
- Everything prepared this poor young blind and quadriplegic girl for a life of absolute solitude in the sole consolation of union with God. This was not the case, for through her sense of hearing and speech, she would once again break all the records. More than a hundred thousand people entered her dark bedroom and received advice from her. Marthe Robin brought about many conversions. Above all, she actively participated in the life of the Church in a crucial period of its history.
A FORERUNNER OF THE GREATEST COUNCIL OF ALL TIMES !
In fact, all of the extraordinary mystical graces of she who compels recognition as the greatest saint of all time are but the means to an end. They guarantee a mission that can be summed up in three points that are one and the same : the preparation and promotion of the “ greatest council of all times, ” Vatican II.
The founding of her “ Foyers de Charité (Houses of Charity) ” is based on the promotion of a laity that is consecrated and sent on the mission of undertaking a new evangelization.
It was Marthe who prophesised “ the Pentecost of love ” that was going to ensue from Vatican II well before Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. She was a prophet mighty in deed and word. She is the fruits of the Council because it is she who inspired most of the charismatic communities, better known now as the “ new communities. ”
Her devotion to the Blessed Virgin is in the vanguard of that of Vatican II. With Marthe, the Blessed Virgin descends from this empyrean where the theology of the Council of Trent and the popular piety after the great Marian apparitions of the 19th century had niched Her. It is outdated to speak of “ Divine Mary ; ” At long last, with Marthe, the Blessed Virgin once again becomes closer and more human than heavenly and distant, She is more a Mother than a Queen ; She is “ Mummy Mary. ”
The Demon’s hatred towards her adds to the supernatural and authentic character of her mission. Thus when she died in the night of February 5, 1981, “ killed by the Demon, ” and was found on the floor beside her bed wearing worn-out slippers, no one was surprised. Marthe had died while waging the final battle against “ the Enemy, ” as the daughter of the Church that she had always been.
Neither the bishops of Valence nor the parish priests of Châteauneuf-de-Galaure had doubts as to her visions or her providential vocation in the Church. Her funeral service was already the beginnings of the glory of the altars : four bishops, more than two hundred priests and six thousand people attended it.
THE BIOGRAPY WRITTEN BY THE POSTULATOR.
This is essentially what was known about Marthe Robin before the publication of the biography written by the postulator of her cause, Fr. Bernard Peyrous, a priest of the Emmanuel Community, and the vice-postulator, Marie Thérèse Gille, a member of the “ Foyers de Charité. ” This 400 page biography : Vie de Marthe Robin, published in 2006, is a reference book. Of course, one might point out its deficiencies, its calculated omissions. One might be surprised by the portrait that the author wants to impose on us of a Marthe Robin who is “ far from the excesses attributed to mystics, ” and “ disarmingly modest, ” but the new facts that this biography reveals cannot be denied under the pretext that its authors do not quote their sources. If the postulator does not mention them, it is because in 2006 the dossier was still under consideration and under the Pontifical Seal of Secrecy.
1902-1921 : QUITE AN ORDINARY PEASANT GIRL
Marthe was born on March 13, 1902 in Châteauneuf-de-Galoure in the Drôme, a large town worked on by anticlericalism and even Freemasonry. The Robins were rather well-to-do peasants, believers but not regular churchgoers.
Marthe was the sixth and last child of a family that already had four girls and one boy. In 1908, her eldest sister married ; Marthe was deeply affected by this event, and remained very jealous of her brother-in-law for a long time. She had a cheerful nature and was readily mischievous. She was often sick and this affected her schooling.
Unlike her brother Henri, Marthe went to catechism classes ; but “ Marthe was rather embarrassed when she had to recite her lessons by heart, as was done in those days. ” (Peyrous, p. 29; pocket book edition) She was confirmed in 1911 and made her First Communion on August 15, 1912.
Marthe Robin did not distinguish herself by her piety. The postulator is hard pressed to give us an edifying, supernatural fact objectively witnessed by local people or the parish priest. In the village, the Robin girls had the reputation of being cheerful and easy-going. They liked dancing at the evening gathering with the boys invited for the occasion. Grandmother Robin was very good at livening things up. Marthe really liked to dance, to roar with laughter, especially when she told stories.
The first sixteen years of her life were thus ordinary, mediocre, decent all the same, as could be the life of a little peasant girl at that time in a family with scarcely any faith or piety. If Marthe distinguished herself, it was by the fact that she was always ailing, and in a word, “ this tall thin person ” had a propensity for anorexia; she ate very little. She was also very sensitive. The slightest change in her relational world distressed her. We saw this at the time of the marriage of her eldest sister. The same fear came over her, but on a big scale, when her brother, Henri, left for the war in May 1918.
1918-1921. THE GREAT SUFFERINGS OF A STRANG ILLNESS.
It was an emotional shock for Marthe. She reacted to it by anorexia. She did not eat very much, but this time, she went too far. On December 1, 1918, she collapsed and was unable to get back to her feet. She truly suffered greatly. She was unable to tolerate light and she had headaches that made her scream with pain day and night. She admitted to her niece : “ If you plunged me into your boiling laundry vat, I would not suffer any more. ” (p. 33) The doctors first thought that it was a brain tumour, then a lethargic encephalitis ; Doctor Modrin, of Hauterives, immediately diagnosed hysteria, and this became known.
Life on the farm was hard. Marthe was a mouth to feed that “ does not earn the water it drinks, ” as her father and her brother used to say. She realised that her father had more consideration for his dog than for her, and she suffered greatly from this. On the other hand, her mother and her sisters helped her well, and a few friends also. During this period of great suffering interrupted by remissions, she was quite alone, without spiritual support. She was a poor girl suffering dreadfully, without the slightest idea of the redemptive value that she could give to her sufferings. So far, we cannot say that she was a saint, but she certainly was sorely afflicted by a serious illness.
1921-1936 : THE GREATEST MYSTIC OF ALL TIME
On March 25, 1921, according to certain authors, in May 1921 or March 25, 1922, according to Peyrous, Marthe Robin suddenly plunged into another world by the irruption into her life of a person, a spirit, someone. “ Alice, her sister, who was sleeping in the same room, was awakened by a loud noise and she saw a brilliant light. ‘Yes, the light is beautiful,’ Marthe replied to her, ‘but I also saw the Blessed Virgin.’ ”
When an apparition is received from Heaven, even if no words are uttered, graces, insights are infused into the mind, enthusiasm into the heart. These will determine a resolute action, a reorientation, a radical conversion. What can be observed in the life of Marthe ? Apparently nothing of the sort. Yet something does change ; all the authors mention it, but her goddaughter, Bernadette Galichet, deserves credit for not lying about the chronology. From 1921 on, “ Marthe read many ” spiritual authors, lives of saints, and above all, mystics. “ In 1921, a revelation received from Jesus by an Italian Visitandine, Sister Benigna Consolata Ferrero, who died in 1916, had a great impact on her :
“ ‘I am preparing the work of My mercy. I want a new resurrection in society and I want it to be a work of love… one must not put a limit on this faith in My love… It is through sacrifice that you are able to give Me souls. The world is running to the precipice. I will stop it in its breath-taking course with this small battalion of generous souls who fight under my leadership.’ ” (Vénérable Marthe Robin, des témoins réagissent et parlent, p. 48) These words would, in fact, have a very great impact on the life of Marthe Robin.
She, the little young country girl who had not even obtained her end of primary school studies certificate, she who had not learned her catechism lessons well, she who, from a human point of view, had no future here below, there she was, spurred on by an apparition from the next world, devouring as an autodidact, the facts, deeds and words of the most extraordinary mystics of the Catholic Church. Peyrous gives us an impressive list of the books that she was able to consult at the parish library, without counting those that she was able to obtain elsewhere.
It was these readings which, in the following ten years, would gradually transform “ Marthe, the poor little ill peasant girl ” into “ Marthe, the greatest of the mystics. ” Some say that it is a miracle of grace ; others object that it is through a hysterical reaction that she would assimilate the mystics, incorporate them into her own personality. Let us state the fact and take note that such a metamorphosis took place in the beginning without a spiritual director, laboriously, for she who claimed to have seen the Blessed Virgin in 1921, also confided to Doctor Assailly that the years 1923-1925 were difficult : “ I struggled with God. ” (Marthe Robin, témoignage d’un psychiatre…, p. 70). One day she said to some young girls : “ Everyone can and must fulfil his vocation, but not me… I struggled with God… I would not wish such a struggle with God on anyone of you. ” (Peyrous, p. 55)
1921-1930 : THE HIDDEN LIFE
In 1921 Martha considered entering the Carmel. Her father was opposed to this and from then on ceased all religious practice. Marthe did not insist further and abandoned the idea. During the summer she regained the use of her legs and went on pilgrimage to Our Lady of Chatenay on August 15 and to Our Lady of Bonne-Combe on September 8.
MARTHE ROBIN’S “ GOOD SAMARITIANS. ”
Providence, however, did not abandon her. In 1923 Marthe met two, or rather three holy persons. “ The first was Mrs. Du Baÿ, Baroness of Alboussière, in Ardèche, who was a woman of faith with a fine religious library. Mrs. Du Baÿ was certainly touched by this very ill young girl, slightly at a loss to know how to ‘integrate’ her illness into her life of faith. She spoke to her about Jesus’ Passion. That gave Marthe a key to help her understand and it undoubtedly influenced her. The second friend was Mrs. Delatour de Saint-Claude, in the Jura, with whom she would carry on a very private correspondence between 1923 and 1928. ” (Peyrous, p. 44-45)
If Marthe, in her solitude, found a very human consolation in Mrs. Delatour, someone who would listen attentively to her great sorrows and her complaints, Mrs. Du Bäy was her first compassionate yet wise “ spiritual director. ” Strictly speaking, she did not guide her, but she advised her and surrounded her with her spiritual affection. Both of them helped her financially.
Let us not forget that Fr. Faure, the parish priest of Châteauneuf-de-Galaure, was a providential instrument from 1923 on. Marthe’s biographers agree in formulating the opinion that he was a ‘holy man,’ but lacked sound spiritual judgement. He himself was humble enough to recognise his incompetence, and his lack of aptitude for all that is extraordinary. Nevertheless, from 1923 to 1930, he exercised a certain paternity over Marthe, in spite of herself. It was Fr. Faure who dared to tell her a few home truths, for example, that she was slacking off. Later on, we will see in what circumstances a prodigious reversal of roles would occur making him the secretary of Marthe’s visions and elevations.
Her’s or those of the mystics that she was plagiarising ? Everyone has asked this question. It was one of the thorny points of the dossier.
ILL AND MYSTIC, TRUE OR FALSE ?
Fr. Peyrous who has the Roman dossier had a good understanding of the tragic psychiatric state in which Marthe Robin found herself, and here is how he explains her craze for reading the mystics :
“ Marthe, let us restate, was suffering terribly and from a dreadfully destructing illness. Her personality was under great tension at certain times. Undoubtedly we can say that she was as though lost in those moments, interiorly ravaged. She could have fallen into madness or death. She had to fight in order not to lose her mind, to keep hold of her person, and even to recompose her inner self. ” (p. 98)
Was God the useful, indispensable medicine for the recomposition of Marthe Robin’s “ self ” ? Peyrous forestalls the danger of this explanation. He simply claims that the poor little thing lacked the vocabulary to relate God’s effective work within her. This is why Marthe borrows the experiences of the saints, without falsifying or lying, Peyrous laboriously points out. She is therefore an authentic mystic. Q.E.D.
The postulator becomes more serious again, and he places us on the path to a deeper understanding of Marthe’s personality, by calling on Doctor Cuvelier, a neuropsychiatrist specialised in mystical literature.
“ Marthe Robin goes from memorisation to memoration [evocation of a recent memory], that is to say that via her illness, she incorporates memories accepted as present reality into her personality. Such a process should lead to mental confusion whereas in the present case, the “ self ” emerged strengthened. In our opinion, this is where the intervention of grace can be seen. ” (Peyrous, p. 102)
The doctor’s opinion is very pertinent. There is, in fact, an intervention of a superior spirit that will guide her and prevent her from losing her mind in the maze of mystical experiences that she was going to integrate and incorporate as she advanced in her readings, without having been prepared for it by a Christian life of piety and virtue, nor even leading such a life thereafter.
A NEW SAINT THÉRÈSE OF THE CHILD JESUS ?
Marthe Robin said that 1925 was the end of a time of trial for her. Does this mean that she was no longer struggling with God ? Had she yielded to Him ? On August 15, 1925, she was to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes ; to everyone’s surprise, she ended up letting another girl from the area take her place. All the authors admire her renouncement, but Peyrous reveals to us the discontentment of Fr. Faure, and thus the disobedience that was at the origin of this apparent act of charity. Three years later another occasion arose ; she refused, and would always refuse to go to Lourdes. This is all the stranger because she professedly understood the Immaculate Conception better than everyone else. This refusal, however it is interpreted, opened a new path to Marthe. She let herself be lead down it, embarking on a ‘course of a giant.’
Thinking that she might soon die, Marthe wrote an Act of Abandonment and an Act of Offering to the Love and Will of God on October 15, 1925. Before the publication of the postulator’s biography, everyone went into raptures over such fervour. Peyrous reveals to us that it is literally copied from a spiritual author. She tore it up in order to write a second, more mystical one, a plagiarism of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who had been canonised in 1925. There was much talk about her in the Church. Marthe had read ‘The Story of a Soul’ and became imbued by it. You can see that she was about to become another Saint Thérèse.
On October 3, 1926, the saint’s feastday, Marthe went into a coma for three weeks. It was in this pathological state that Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus appeared to her three times in order to reassure her that she was not going to die for she, Marthe, had to continue Thérèse’s mission and also make Love loved throughout the whole world. When the “ world ” is fiercely anticlerical, however, that is not easy. Marthe was going to experience this.
One day when Fr. Faure brought her Communion, her brother, Henri, exploded : “ If that priest comes back again, I will shoot him ! ” Peyous reveals to us that this man was not only the timid person who he is ordinarily made out to be ; he was dangerous. An alcoholic and anticlerical as well, he sometimes beat his sister. In 1951, he shot himself in the head with a hunting gun. His body was found upstairs ; Marthe had heard nothing. These strange circumstances were and still are one of the difficulties of the ‘Marthe Robin’ dossier. Doctor Assailly testified that “ Marthe was not worried about his eternity, even though he hardly ever received Communion during his life. ” No one worried, neither for Henri nor for Marthe. In any case, at that time, Marthe yielded to the pressure of her brother and asked the parish priest not to come back. She remained without Communion for a long while, several weeks, several months, no one really knows.
In 1927, at the end of a year of mystical graces, of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin and of Saint Thérèse again, Marthe Robin was eating almost nothing. She also saw the Demon [little Thérèse would chase him away.] She sometimes saw him with the eyes of the body ; he was naked. Often Marthe would confide : “ If you only knew how beautiful he is ! ” The Devil, however, impervious to the compliment, would beat her and throw her out of her bed.
It was during this period of ‘great mystical fervour’ that she wrote to Mrs. Delatour : “ Life is nothing but a gloomy nightmare for those who suffer (…) What can I tell you about myself, life is always the same, dull and monotone, bringing much more sadness than joys ; but I believe that nothing affects me now. I see that I am doomed to take large gulps of all the bitter cups. ” (Peyrous, p. 51)
Peyrous quite rightly points out that « this is the language of an extremely sorrowful resignation rather than a resolute offering. ” We will come back to this displayed indifference further on, but before we delve deeper into the depths of Marthe Robin’s mystery, let us get a breath of the fresh air of the good odour of Christ in His little Thérèse : “ Suffering became my attraction ; it had charms about it that ravished me without my understanding them very well (…). I felt the desire of loving only God, of finding my joy only in Him. ” Who then is the greatest saint of modern times, the former or the latter ?
In 1928, Marthe’s legs were permanently paralysed, the following year it would be her arms. She accepted this state with serenity. Such indifference to suffering can be an indication of eminent holiness, or it can also be the clear case of a hysterical reaction well-known to psychiatrists : “ Marthe lives through these successive bouts of paralysis in a kind of serene happiness : ‘Everything happened, as it were, with a smile.’ That is no longer resignation but an acknowledgement of an event that is in the nature of things and that was bound to happen. It is similar to the indifference of hysterics for whom the limitation of physical mobility is borne with detachment. ” (cf. Doctor Gonzague Mottet : Marthe Robin, la stigmatisé de Drôme, p. 44)
MARTHE AND SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI.
On December 3, 1928, two Capuchins, Fr. Marie-Bernard and Fr. John preached a retreat ; they went to visit Marthe Robin. They came back enthusiastic from it and said to Fr. Faure that he had a saint in the parish. Peyrous tells us that Fr. Faure replied to them quite naturally : “ I do not have the foggiest idea whom you are talking about. ”
Marthe was enthralled by Fr. Marie-Bernard. Peyrous informs us that this friar was going to drastically change Marthe’s life. He suggested to her that she should enter the Third Order of Saint Francis. She accepted.
You can anticipate what was going to take place. It would be proportionate to the two shocks that she had received from the two people who made an impression on her : Fr. Marie-Bernard and Saint Francis of Assisi. Two days afterwards, Jesus appeared to her and asked her if she would be willing to suffer for the conversion of sinners. He also wanted Fr. Faure to become her spiritual director, and that she should have a great union of souls with him. All of this is nothing other than the faithful echo of Fr. Marie-Bernard’s wise guidance. At each of Marthe’s positive responses, a sword pierced her heart. Fr. Faure, who was under no illusion about his parishioner, was flattered by the invitation. He, who until then had been reticent and serious, would eventually become the secretary of Marthe’s revelations and would lose his good sense, yet not his humility, admitting quite simply that he “ felt overwhelmed. ”
STIGMATISED BY CHRIST IN PERSON !
At the beginning of October 1930 (the feast of St. Francis is celebrated on October 4,) Jesus asked her : “ Do you want to be like Me ? ” She replied, ‘Yes,’ and it was Christ in Person Who stigmatised her. She related how. Jesus was there before her in His sorrowful humanity. He asked her to offer her feet. She stretched her paralysed legs that were curled up and placed them in the same position as the Crucified One. Then from Jesus’ Heart arrows shot out and pierced them ; likewise for her hands. Marthe’s arms were stretched out sideways and her legs extended : “ Jesus invited me to present my heart, or rather my breast (sic) to Him… ” Once again she was pierced.
Mrs. Robin who was not surprised by her daughter’s close relationship with the Blessed Virgin was alarmed this time, or pretended to be, because blood was shed. No one wanted anyone to know about it, above all Marthe, but the news spread like wildfire.
Thereafter, she would relive the Passion every week. Jesus told her : “ It is you who I have chosen to live out My Passion the most fully after My Mother [sic]. Furthermore, no one after you will ever live it so totally and in order for you to suffer [sic] night and day, you will never sleep again ! ” (L’Alouette, March 1986, p. 30)
She no longer ate anything except the consecrated Host that she received only once a week. Peyrous reassures his readers and broaches a taboo subject : For more than fifty years, Marthe never attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ? ! “ She was unfit to travel. In those days, ” he explains to us, “ only Camillian Fathers were allowed to celebrate Mass in sickroom. There were none in the region. ” No one asked for a special permission, neither before, during nor after the Second Vatican Council ? Permission would obviously have been granted if it had been requested ? !
Henceforth her stigmata would be a substitute for virtue. Marthe is another Christ ; so Mass ? It is she who relives it. It therefore seems really petty to raise the objection of the law of the Church. Since Saint Francis of Assisi, the stigmata have fascinated Christians who are always eager to see in order to believe. Yet in this domain also, above all in this domain, diabolical impostures abound.
One must know that only the stigmata that form “ cutaneous outgrowths, ” like those of Saint Francis of Assisi, or deep wounds that pierce the limbs right through, leave the medical profession speechless. This is not the case for “ superficial stigmata or bleeding on a healthy skin. ”
“ Authors, ” Dr. Mottet points out, “ all agree in recognising the existence of an abnormal suggestibility… ” It is the type that is peculiar to hysterics. Marthe’s stigmata are of this latter kind, and that is why they did not at all make an impression on Marthe’s friend, the psychiatrist, Paul-Louis Couchoud. When he kissed Marthe’s forehead before taking leave of her, he observed that immediately afterwards a drop of blood formed. He did not lose any sleep over this ; his friend was a seriously ill person, that is all there was to it. Ignorant of religious matters, he did not suspect that this kind of mental illness is also a favourite haunt of the Demon.
We are going to see the Demon carrying out his dirty work and petty chores, the notorious ones that always succeed. Let us note just how far this powerful spirit led poor Marthe, and in her wake, our unfortunate Church, in her Head and her members. It is nothing less than the disorientation of the dogma of the Faith and the pastoral ministry of the Catholic Church that he is pursuing in this affair.
1930-1936 : PUBLIC LIFE
The news of her stigmatisation and of the Passions that recurred weekly spread and attracted crowds of people to Moïlles. Guitton, intuitive, perfectly characterised the ipseity of the situation. People were going to flock about Marthe with the same infatuation as the Greeks long ago who went to consult the Pythia. As in Delphi, Marthe would be surrounded by a ritual, a domestic ceremony that was of great simplicity in appearance, but which was composed of many surprising aspects.
These visits became a family enterprise because it was Mrs. Robin who organised them and managed the small gifts that people left. Since Marthe did not eat, they did not consist of food. It was euphemistically called ‘Marthe’s basket,’ because obviously all these gifts were sent away to the poor. Peyrous is more explicit. He states the naked and scandalous truth, but he always finds the words required to clothe it in the loveliest attire of charity. This good Father excels in this and he has not finished to surprise us :
“ How can some resources be found, at least to be able to give to charity, in order to help prisoners or missionaries, who soon become the object of her attention ? She thus engaged for a few years in a small business of devotional articles that provided her with a meagre income. ” (p. 81)
THE FIRST OPPONENTS.
Things had gone too far. If Marthe had succeeded in changing Fr. Faure to the point that from 1931 on, no one could see her without his permission, there was someone who took fright and felt responsible for it all : Fr. Marie-Bernard. He asked Msgr. Saudreau, the chaplain of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of Angers, renowned for the discernment of spirits, for advice.
“ To reveal her vanity, ” Fr. Marie-Bernard relates, “ I advised her to have her picture taken : two photographs were made. In one, she was hideous. In the other, she was wearing a lace mantilla from Valence. She resembled Sarah Bernhardt more than the poor little peasant girl that she was. The temptation of vanity and coquetry prevailed : she offered me Sarah Bernhardt and forgot to give me her true likeness. ” Peyrous laughs at the naivety of such a method. Yet the simplicity of the test was well-adapted to her who was going to relive the Passion of Christ every week, in the obscurity of her bedroom, but also in the light of the flashes of photographers.
Fr. Marie-Bernard disavowed Marthe Robin ; he and this dear Mrs. Du Baÿ left her, and probably Mrs. Delatour as well. There was no longer anything, however, that would stop the crowds from flocking round.
WHEN DEMOCRATIC-MINDED PRIESTS DISCERN SPIRITS.
In less than ten years, Marthe Robin established an impressive network of relations This was brought about by her illness which, with good reason, moved people to pity, but above all, by her autodidactic promotion to the rank of a “ superior mystic. ” She made a name for herself, particularly in Lyon, in the rather special milieu of devote, mystical persons. Little by little, Marthe became a religious authority from whom people came to seek advice. Priests and theologians also came ; at first, they were suspicious, but they came away enthusiastic, and told their superiors about what they had seen and heard.
Take Fr. Betton, for example, professor at the Seminary Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux : “ He is an intellectual, well-versed in mystical theology [an enthusiastic disciple of Bergson]. He is also a spiritual soul, who has ‘contacts’ in this domain. ” (Peyrous, p. 81-82) Fr. Betton knew what we know. He entered Marthe’s sickroom : “ I entered this little room and immediately I felt such a presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that I felt very small, very small. ” In his first conversation with Marthe, he showed her a theological error in one of her descriptions and she humbly submitted to his judgement. This humility made Fr. Betton consider that Marthe was an authentic mystic. ” He then acted as a know-it-all professor, teaching Marthe the different types of visions : “ intellectual, imaginative, corporeal. ” Marthe listened to him with rapture. She would remember the lesson well. We are astounded by such puerility on the part of a man of the Church and, what is more, a seminary professor.
In his book, Marthe Robin, le mystère décrypté, François de Muizon informs us that “ the bishop of Valence asked a priest of the valley who was a philosopher by training [perhaps it was Fr. Betton?] to produce a report for him. It was favourable. There were no excesses to be noted, neither on the part of Marthe, of her family nor on the part of the priests that surround her. The bishop was reassured. ” The mind boggles !
Among the prominent persons from whom advice was sought and who later on played a determining role, let us indicate those mentioned by Peyrous : “ the renowned Jesuit, Albert Valendin, one of the best minds of the Company of Jesus in France. ” Reputed for the certitude of his mystical theology, this good Father is even more well-known for his fierce opposition to Action Française; the postulator neglects to mention this.
Peyrous speaks to us about Fr. Charles Thellier de Poncheville (1875-1956) : “ one of France’s best-known priests, sub-editor of the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, he is one of the founders of the Semaines sociales, and a speaker who is appreciated and demanded everywhere. He preaches a Salesian-inspired religion of love, hope and peace. ” Peyrous adds that he was a close friend of Fr. Finet, but does not say that Thellier was also a friend and unquestioning supporter of Marc Sangnier. It was with “ Marc ” and with numerous parish priests and committed laymen, all of whom were apostles of Christian democracy, that he continued, under the cover of L’âme française, to spread in the Church the democratic ideology of the Sillion, which Saint Pius X had so lucidly condemned in 1910 (cf. Ernest Pezet, Chrétiens au service de la cite, p. 70).
Here, within the framework of this study, we are unable to carry out a more thorough and exhaustive analysis of the ecclesial ideas of the clerics who showed enthusiasm for Marthe Robin. Among them, however, no disciple of Saint Pius X with a penetrating mind, consummate wisdom and apostolic zeal can be found. They were all Christian Democrats. It was their ideas, condemned by Saint Pius X, that would prevail by means of Pius XI’s Specialised Catholic Action. It was this party, its members and ideas that would prevail at the Second Vatican Council, directed by a common Spirit that led them powerfully, headed by Marthe Robin, resulting in the greatest disorientation of the Church.
1933-1981 : FOUNDRESS AND MEDIATRIX
After the reading of the mystics, the providential encounters, the mystical graces and above all the stigmatisation, the “ Marthe Robin’s mystical mechanics ” was perfected. This high-powered racing car, however, lacked a driver capable of driving it where the Spirit that controlled it willed, to the reform of the Church by means of a Pentecost of love.
THE FOYERS DE CHARITÉ.
As a preliminary step to reach this goal, Jesus appeared to her in 1933 to inform her about it. Christ asked her to found the “ Foyers de Charité. ” This involved nothing less than having men and women laypeople, in families or unmarried, who desire to follow the example of the first Christians and to form together a community, live in the same building complex. They would be led by a priest : “ the Father. ” Under his leadership, the houses were to become a house of charity, light and love.
Jesus called this the “ great work of His love. ” The first house was to be founded in Châteauneuf and would begin with the creation of a Catholic school for girls.
François de Muizon rightly emphasises what Peyrous fails to mention (we will soon understand why) : “ Jesus insists in His message to Marthe on the originality of the ties between the Movement and Marthe, and with Himself : ‘I want to do here something new and very great for our Glory, for the sake of you… For the sake of all that I do and want to do with you, and through you, in whom I want to glorify Myself.’ ”
“ I was dumbfounded ! I hardly dared to believe the divine words of the Lord, so afraid was I of being mistaken, foreseeing all the gravity and the unprecedented consequences of such a communication. What I totally failed to understand was the direct participation that was imposed on me in all of this. It is not for me to challenge God’s orders, I only have to accept them and obey since I had to immediately reveal all that had been said to me. What a martyrdom and what a torment it was for me ! I was choked with fear at the mere thought of what I would have to say, so much was I in dread of speaking. This time, however, the Lord had insisted with such authority that I could delay no longer.
“ At that moment, in a glorious gesture of blessing and love, Jesus opened his arms, looked down on the earth that he was covering majestically with His shadow (sic !) considering it with ineffable tenderness and kindness. After a moment in this stance, He showed me the precise location where He wanted His Work, and it had to be acquired. ” (de Muizon, p. 111-112)
Marthe entrusted this mission to Fr. Faure who protested. He consulted his fellow priests and all but one of them said that it was pure folly. Despite this, he embarked on the adventure : buying and restoring the derelict castle of Châteauneuf-de-Galaure.
MISS ÉMILIE BLANK.
This maiden lady, who in 1935 was sixty years old, would play a discreet role, much more important, and above all more disquieting, than one might think. Peyrous tells us that she belonged to this “ mystical milieu ” about which the “ clergy of Lyon was wary ” because of its “ appetite for extraordinary things ” (p. 115). She led the work of propaganda of the Sacred Heart and had connections with the Visitation of Côme where Consolata Ferrero had lived. Like Marthe, Miss Blank longed for the reign of the merciful love of the Sacred Heart, and Peyrous adds that she wanted “ to found something. ” She spent several days with Marthe who described this stay as a “ divine impression. ”
Marthe was so (pathologically) in thrall that she even went so far as to recognise in the end that the idea of the Foyers de charité “ came from Miss Blank, ” and that she proposed to help her ( ? !) Had Marthe already forgotten the loving words of Jesus, the wills of her Lord ? Peyrous attenuates the strange impression that we feel in the face of such indifference by attributing it to her humility ; others see rather a sign of her mental derangement.
Although Peyrous tries to conceal it, he actually reveals that they spoke to one another about what the work and what Marthe lacked the most : a man of a different mystical and administrative calibre than poor Fr. Faure. He had admitted to Miss Blank his incapacity to give Marthe spiritual direction. She spoke about it to the small circle of her friends, and their choice fell on Fr. Finet, a spiritual director and the assistant superintendent for Catholic education in the Diocese of Lyon. Yet how could he be reached ? Peyrous naïvely admits : “ It may be that, on this occasion, a small operation was mounted. ” (p. 120)
“ The occasion ” was provided by this painting of Mary Mediatrix that Marthe wanted to place in the school of Châteauneuf. Yet since she had some very unusual ideas concerning this representation, Miss Blank saw to it : “ I have just what you need. ” One of her friends had a copy painted, and Fr. Finet, who had great devotion to the Virgin Mary, was asked to take it to a poor disabled woman who, moreover, was stigmatised. It was not to be refused.
(September 6, 1898 – April 14, 1990)
The few pages (p. 121-136) that the postulator devotes to him compels admiration. All that he says about his family, his childhood, the dawning of his vocation ; about the artillery officer during World War I ; about the young priest so preoccupied with the salvation of the souls of the poorest and with the best way to be loved by them ; about his ecclesiastical career that was carried out without ambition, in obedience and perfect harmony with his fellow priests ; about his devotion to the Blessed Virgin. All of this pays tribute to this generous Catholicism that was lived in the Church of France before World War II. Georges Finet was thus a son of the upper middle class of Lyon, but let us not forget that he was a Christian Democrat, which meant a break with the ecclesial wisdom of Pope Saint Pius X, an opening to the ways of the world and its disorientations.
“ When Fr. Finet met Marthe Robin, he already had a rich and well-developed personality. He had received much from his family. By the priesthood and then in the community of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, he had chosen a radical life. His love for Mary [drawn from Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort] gave him a fruitful spiritual path. He had benefitted from the example of remarkable men and women. He was beginning to gain experience of souls. He had gradually elaborated a joyful and liberating theological doctrine in which God is present as a Father, Christ as a brother, a close relation and a friend. The responsibilities that he had had in the army and in Catholic education gave him leadership qualities.
“ He had an enthusiastic, confident nature that kept and would keep throughout his lifetime some aspects of the spirit of childhood. He was a lively person, an optimist, who saw the positive side of things and persons. He was endowed with an excellent ability to adapt (…). The head and the heart were well-balanced. He refused any kind of withdrawal : he wanted to build and advance. He was the man needed for the foundation. He would pursue it to the end.
“ Faults are the other side of the coin of qualities. When totally involved, intellectually and emotionally, in an enterprise, he can lack perspective, be uncritical of himself and of others. He has difficulty blaming himself. ”
THE FIRST MEETING.
This was the very man who headed for Châteauneuf-de-Galaure on February 10, 1936. He went first to Fr. Faure’s presbytery, thinking that he would leave the painting there and return home. The parish priest convinced him to go see Marthe. Fr. Finet let himself be persuaded but was not overly keen on it. Fr. Faure first had a conversation with her, then he came out and said to his confrere : “ Marthe wants you to bring the painting to her. ” The first meeting : between him and her, this strange painting ; a thank you, a prayer, and an appointment was scheduled for that afternoon. “ The fire ignited ” there during a three hour conversation.
One hour concerned the Blessed Virgin : “ I, who gave Marian talks, was dazzled by the way she spoke about the Blessed Virgin. She called Her her ‘mother darling.’ I supposed then that they both knew each other very well. ” (p. 138) The next hour concerned the new apostolate of the laity : “ She told me that the Church was going to be totally regenerated by the apostolate of the laity (…). It would be something entirely new in the Church ; It had never been done before. It would be the consecrated laity, not a religious order. ” During the third hour, they spoke about the Pentecost of love : “ The world will be saved, ” Marthe told him, “ because the good God will intervene by the Blessed Virgin and the Holy Spirit ” in order to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah on “ the union of hearts and the unity of peoples ” (François de Muizon, p. 101).
Then Marthe addressed this demand to him in a commanding tone :
“ I have a demand to address to you on behalf of God. It is you who must come here to Châteauneuf to found the first Foyer de Charité (…).
“ To do what ? ” Fr. Finet, dumbfounded, retorted.
« Above all to preach retreats. God wills it ! ”
Fr. Finet protested. He was from the Diocese of Lyon, not from Valence.
“ Don’t worry yourself, ” Marthe retorted, “ the Blessed Virgin will see to it ! ” and without further delay she set September 7 as the date for the first retreat.
“ Finet was won over, stunned as well : ‘I will speak about it to my superiors.’ ” (cf. de Muizon, p. 101)
THE WATCHWORD OF THE CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC MAFIA.
Msgr. Bornet, superintendent of Christian Schools in the Diocese of Lyon, listened to him attentively and replied to him : “ You must accept ! ” He received the same advice from the vicar general, Msgr. Rouche.
The very democratic Jesuit, Albert Valensin, his spiritual Father, stated to him : “ Marthe Robin is Catherine of Sienna. She will never deceive you. She possesses the spirit of the Church ! You must do all that she tells you to do; she will never deceive you. I will always be with you to help you, to support you, and occasionally to defend you ; go ahead ! ” He, too, had spent three hours in Marthe’s company. It was Bishop Pic of Valence, in person, who took him there. The bishop obviously blessed the project, even though Cardinal Louis Joseph Maurin – who only had a few more months to live – considered it “ crazy ” ! The old archbishop of Lyon, a disciple of Saint Pius X and a supporter of Action Française, was “ sceptic about Marthe ” (p. 183).
THE ENTHUSIASTIC FIRST STAGES
Fr. Finet took the job of cofounder of the Foyers de Charité with the capacity for work and the enthusiasm for which he was known. The first retreat that he preached in Châteauneuf-de-Galaure from September 7 to 13, 1936, was still based on the model of those that he had preached previously, Marian in inspiration and culminating in the consecration to Jesus through Mary.
It was, however, through his preaching on the love of such a good, tender and maternal heavenly Father that this priest touched hearts. Marthe, on the other hand, made everyone discover during the visits that each one of them was able to make to her, “ the very maternal and marvellous side of Mary. ” There was no shortage of all sorts of difficulties. Diabolical manifestations took place that night ; the next day, Fr. Finet was almost choked to death by a hysteric woman. Nothing surprised him ; he was always in good spirits. He looked after everything, energetically : directing the school, hiring teachers, building the first Foyer de Charité during the war, even though he was penniless. Father forged ahead. When such imprudence was about to end in a spectacular bankruptcy, a big cheque would arrive just in time. Father never lacked money. That is something that only ever happens in the lives of saints… alas, not only there !
In the pre-war years, Châteauneuf resembled the Galilean idyll of the Gospel. Since the first retreat, Fr. Finet had become Marthe’s “ Father. ” Everyone saw in them the delightful spectacle of the purest paternal and filial love. Dreadful howling and groaning was heard coming from the farm, but everyone said to themselves that it was just the demon who was tormenting Marthe, or that it was Marthe reliving Jesus’ Passion ; it was in the order of things, so no one panicked. Life slipped by in that manner, peacefully, happily, sometimes with suave fragrances mysteriously filling the air ; good heavenly odours more sweet-scented than the baskets of fruit in Marthe’s sickroom. It was above all through their words, penetrating words full of wisdom, subtlety, simplicity or great philosophical reflections as well, that Marthe and Fr. Finet touched hearts. They were both, each in their own way, sparkling with intelligence, really very affable !
Nevertheless, knowing that “ no one is a prophet in his own country, ” no one was surprised at the hidden hostility of the people of Châteauneuf towards the Robin family and Marthe in particular. No one, therefore, paid any attention to their allegations. Yet even the best and the most Christian of the farmers from the surrounding area never felt at ease in Châteauneuf in the company of those people from the ‘city’, those people from the ‘upper crust’ who came from Valence or Lyon and even Paris.
THE DAY AND THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
From 1936 to 1944-1945, the archbishops of Lyon, Maurin and Gerlier, required Fr. Finet to spend at least two days per week in Lyon. He was thus unable to devote himself totally to the work of the Foyers de Charité, but he really threw himself into it. Until November 1940, it was Mrs. Robin who stood guard over her daughter. Afterwards Fr. Finet would watch over her day and night, as it were, thanks to two mysterious and very discrete maiden ladies : Henriette Portier and Thérèse Rissoan. They were Marthe’s “ guards ; ” they were totally devoted to Fr. Finet and they obeyed him scrupulously.
In 1942, Fr. Finet, for reasons of convenience, we are told, decided to have a new, quieter, sickroom built for Marthe. On August 7, 1943, a cleverly worded warning from Bishop Pic, dismissed both the opponents and the fanatic supporters of Marthe Robin without pronouncing in favour of either of them. The bishop did not want trite lampoons “ to implicate very indiscreetly the most respectable theologians and even cardinals. ”
“ Thereafter, ” François de Muizon explains to us, “ Fr. Finet would increase the reliability of a very strict system for spreading information. Under the bishop’s authority he became Marthe’s only spokesman. All the visitors who were permitted to meet Marthe Robin in her sickroom were forbidden to speak about her, even to their own family. The law of silence was imposed. This would be the rule until Marthe’s death. ” (de Muizon, p. 137)
What was taking place ? François de Muizon relates the facts to us in a chapter with a surprising, and even very suggestive title : “ The Temptation of the Supernatural. ”
THE “ FINET-ROBIN ” LIE
On February 10, 1936, it was not the first temptation, the temptation of the ‘midday demon’ that Fr. Finet had encountered, but the second, the temptation of things that are extravagant, extraordinary. With Marthe, he was going to attract crowds to the Foyers de Charité, teach them how good the good God is and how we should love Him. After that, he would be able to renovate France and rework the fabric of Christianity. All those theories on the apostolate about which he used to converse with his zealous confrere Canon Joseph Babolat, were going to take shape, and spirit since, with Marthe, the Lord would be with him, without any doubt. What a fine prospect and career for a really active and generous apostle. There was, however, a price to pay for becoming involved in it. Fr. Finet did not expect this in the least, so it would seem.
On one memorable day, he could not avoid discovering this dreadful truth which, on the testimony of witnesses, is written in black and white in the Positio. Fr. Peyrous revealed it to the world, with a casual air, while wrapping it up as best he could. This truth is Marthe Robin’s lie about her inedia and her paralysis, to say nothing of the harsh reality of her hysteria :
“ Marthe’s illness was subject to evolutions, but also to involutions, periods of recovery. Even if her legs were paralysed, it is certain that Marthe attempted to get about when her arms functioned (…). Sometimes she dragged herself on the floor of her sickroom to relieve herself. She was not in a favourable environment : she acted this way during the night when it was possible. In this way, even if her moving about was very limited, she was able to maintain a certain freedom. It was probable that she recovered this possibility, at least for certain periods, until the end of her life. ”
In other words, Marthe ate the minimum required to keep alive.
FR FINET’S DILEMMA.
Fr. Finet was at a crossroads, at one of those crossroads where the direction to be taken for life – for eternal life as well – would be decided. In the 1940s all was still possible. Fr. Finet could have warned his superiors, had Marthe Robin confined to a nursing home, thrown a cloak over this affair that was already smelling bad. Yet what a disgrace it would be for him and his family ? ! For a middle-class person from Lyon, that counted.
Above all, Georges Finet was so involved in the work of the Foyers de Charité that the principle defect of his rich temperament, very well-identified by Peyrous, prevailed : “ When totally involved, intellectually and emotionally, in an enterprise, he can lack perspective, be uncritical of himself and of others. He has difficulty blaming himself. ”
THE ROBIN-FINET LIE BEFORE MEDICAL SCIENCE.
In Marthe’s life, we can identify three categories of doctors. The distressed ones who were appalled by the symptoms of the illness, and justifiably so. Psychiatrists of great renown, some of whom who were convinced Catholics, others not. Most of them diagnosed hysteria, therefore they concluded that Marthe’s apparitions were a hoax, but they did not dare to denounce it. The only official examination ordered by Bishop Pic was made in 1942 by doctors who were friends or relatives of Fr. Finet. They auscultated Marthe and analysed her case for only a few hours. They drew no conclusion from the examination and the observations, taking what their patient said at its face value. Among the friends who were doctors, special mention must be made of Dr. Alain Assailly, an unconventional psychiatrist. He arrived in Châteauneuf in 1949 with the firm resolution of teaching a thing or two to his Catholic confreres who had told him : “ Don’t get involved in this affair. You’ll become an accomplice to a fantastic hoax and our Church has nothing to gain from it ! ”
In order to prove to his friend that he was wrong, Assailly wanted to have Marthe put under observation in a hospital for a month to examine her inedia, the fact that she was able to live without eating or drinking. This time, things were serious. Marthe was going to evade it with prodigious cleverness, which also supposed a great complicity on the part of Fr. Finet.
Marthe swore to Assailly that she was ready for anything, that her rule was obedience, and that she would do whatever her confessor, her bishop or the Holy Father demanded.
The doctor, who was a good Catholic, lowered his eyes ; he was in the presence of a saint ! Marthe explained to him that he would not succeed in converting his friend, no more than the miracles of Lourdes had succeeded in converting atheist doctors.
“ Do you know any who converted ? ”
“ No, Miss. ”
“ Call me Marthe, I would like that… we are going to work together… ”
In fact, they would work together. For this Catholic neuropsychiatrist who had to treat cases of diabolical possessions, it was going to prove to be very interesting. Assailly forgot his demand and instead sent her some of his patients. Marthe helped them and participated remotely, but most effectively, in their recovery, in their exorcism even. In the meanwhile, however, she evaded a month at the hospital under tight scrutiny. Little Marthe was really very clever !
Thus we understand why Fr. Finet never wanted to have Marthe’s inedia verified, and also why there is not even a reference to it in the decree promulgating the heroic character of her virtues ? ! Have our Roman theologians totally lost their conscience ?
MARTHE AND THE SPIRIT THAT DIRECTED HER.
Henceforth Fr. Finet and Marthe were accomplices to their dying day. It is thus vain to hold forth about the influence of one on the other, especially when we are aware of Marthe’s hypersensitivity regarding the slightest words of a person whom she cherishes as a one sent from God.
The spirit that led Marthe, however, adjusted its effects with the aid of her voice that so greatly charmed Guitton : “ A playful voice, sometimes mischievous, a discrete, always very affectionate (…) Suddenly, however, without a warning ; this reedy voice increased in volume : it became loud, capable of filling the room, as though Marthe had preached the Crusade. Then it was a firm, stentorian, pythian voice. ” (Jean Guitton : Portrait de Marthe Robin, p. 71-72)
Here are three examples taken from so many others.
Fr. Finet was not in the least opposed to the canonical recognition of the Foyers de Charité; he had spoken about this very early on with Canon Babolat. Since the Foyers were being founded at an increasingly rapid pace, Fr. Finet, being a man of the Church, understood clearly that the durability of the enterprise had to be ensured, even if he saw inconveniences of a personal nature. Marthe was always categorically opposed to this measure. In 1952, Canon Naz, a renowned canonist, proposed to give the Foyers de Charité the status of a secular institute, which would have almost placed them in the same category as religious, subject to the jurisdiction of the Roman Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes. For a long while Marthe remained silent, then she exploded : “ A Foyer de Charité is not a contraption added on to another contraption. It is something very new in the Church. It is up to the Church to have us accepted us as we are. ”
“ There will never be Constitutions in the Foyers. Constitutions would limit us and place us in the category of religious orders. ” (cf. Peyrous, p. 291-292)
If Marthe made an objection regarding this question of a purely canonical nature, our farm girl mystic was much less scrupulous when it came to concealing the ‘dear money’ of the Foyers de Charité from the taxman. Who gave this ‘dear money’ back to them ? Who exempted it from taxes ? (cf. Marthe Robin, Le Mystère décrypté, p. 154) It was Edmond Michelet ! He is also a future candidate for beatification, God forbid, because he has so much blood on his conscience. He was a purger in 1944 and during the Algerian War, the Minister of Justice in General de Gaulle’s secret government. “ Marthe was quite fond of him. ”
In the early 1950s, Bishop Urtasun, Bishop Pic’s successor, was concerned to see this mystic in perpetual darkness, and he was determined not to be deluded. Fr. Finet and Marthe understood that the future of the work was in jeopardy. When the bishop ascended to La Plaine, he saw Marthe with the shutters wide open and light shining straight at her. Just this once, Marthe did not scream out in pain. That gullible fool, François de Muizon, wonders why no one thought of giving her sunglasses ! Marthe, perfectly possessed by the spirit that was controlling her, made sheep’s eyes at the bishop and offered him such a suave conversation that he came back from the farm delighted, won over.
FATHER FINET, THE MANIPULATED DIRECTOR.
The first step had been taken there could be no going back. Fr. Finet had no alternative other than to take Marthe’s bedside books : Catherine Emmerich, Gemma Galgani, Dina Belanger, Lucie-Christine, etc. and rewrite with her the pseudo-mystical story of her poor life. Perhaps he ended up believing it ? In any case, in 1949, that was what he taught to seventy priests who had come to listen to him (Vénérable Marthe Robin, p. 129,) and continuing this life, the foundation of the Foyers, a new way of living and thinking, that they would both initiate in the Church before she received acclaim and letters of obedience during the Second Vatican Council.
From November 1940 on, it was Fr. Finet who organised the visits and presided over Marthe’s “ passions. ” He alone was able to bring her out of her ecstasies or expel the demon. He preached retreats at Châteauneuf and presided over the foundation of new Foyers de Charité, over more than sixty at the time of Marthe’s death. It was really a big business.
In his retreats, Fr. Finet would insist greatly on God’s merciful and almost unconditional love. They were very pious, oozing with love ; the slightest desire for penance or austerity was deemed Jansenism, etc. That appealed to good traditionalist Catholics, but it also disoriented them, making them impervious to the calls of Our Lady of Fatima.
It was this radical, evangelical and traditional religion that was still preached by the Fathers of Chabeuil, not far from Châteauneuf-de-Galaure. Our Father, Georges de Nantes, who was well acquainted with them, always said that these good Fathers worked many solid conversions, and that the retreats given at Châteauneuf had caused great detriment to their apostolate, without producing the same good fruits.
BOTH WERE FORERUNNERS OF VATICAN II
Thanks to Fr. Finet’s relations, Marthe’s influence would acquire a high-level national dimension. Dozens of bishops, hundreds of priests, theologians and philosophers came to see Marthe, and they came out of the meeting enthusiastic. Pope Pius XII took interest in her case. He sent Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange. She spoke to him about the Blessed Virgin. The good Father came out of the conversation with tears in his eyes, overwhelmed by his own ignorance and admiring Marthe’s wisdom.
Above all, the stigmatic of Châteauneuf was going to inspire many charismatic communities. If some of them have caused scandal – and still are –, it is not due to human weakness alone, but it is the consequence of a quietist conception of the love of God and neighbour that their members learned in the retreats of Châteauneuf. Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe preached at Châteauneuf. He was a friend of Marthe and Fr. Finet. It was she who persuaded him to found the Brothers of Saint John. The same applies to the conversions brought about at Châteauneuf as to these new communities, they partake of the same ‘weakness. ”
During the Second Vatican Council and its resulting disorders, Marthe and Fr. Finet stood on the side of order, but of Conciliar order. It was not the progressivists who went to Châteauneuf, but more or less traditionalist Catholics, like those from ‘Homme Nouveau,’ and moral authorities in the Church like the Abbots of Fontgombault who consulted Marthe concerning the liturgical reform. Marthe even encouraged Archbishop Lefebvre at the very beginning. Let us note in passing that she supported the apparitions of Garabandal, although they were condemned by the Church.
Marthe practiced in her own way a strange ecumenism ; well before the Council she already understood Christian unity as Vatican II would. Peyrous reveals that she dissuaded Protestant pastors who came to see her from converting to Catholicism. They had Rosaries in their hands and wanted to solemnly abjure their heresy. This was under Pope Pius XII, thus before the Council. Marthe said to them : “ This is not the right moment. ” After the Council, she changed her mind. When it was Pastor Gérard Croissant, better known as Brother Ephraim, there was no problem : “ The time has come. ” (p. 377)
IS MARTHE ROBIN A RIVAL OF THE IMMACULATE ?
Let us relate the story of Marthe’s strange heart-to-heart relationship with her “ Mummy Mary ” in the light of the objective facts that punctuate it, which are duly certified by witnesses. We know nothing concerning either that brilliant light of 1921 or 1922, or the two pilgrimages that she subsequently made ; we know only that she twice refused to go to Lourdes in 1925 and 1928. How strange, how disquieting. It was only in 1935 that she would express a most laudable desire. Her heart was beating with love for Mary Mediatrix ; she thus wanted a painting depicting this privilege of Our Lady. She, however, added immediately : “ Not like what we see everywhere… ”
Was she alluding to “ what we see everywhere ” since the great Marian apparitions of the 19th century : the Immaculate Conception, struck on the obverse side of the Miraculous Medal ? It shows all the light of grace coming from God, passing through the lowered arms and outstretched hands of a tall and entirely celestial Virgin Mary, and spreading over the world, while Her foot crushes the head of the Serpent.
Miss Blank understood Marthe perfectly : “ I have just what you need. ” She had Fr. Finet bring her a painting that she would always keep in her sickroom. An enormous inscription at the bottom of the painting inspires confidence : Mary Mediatrix.
It represents a tall, crowned Blessed Virgin Who has the earth beneath Her feet but She is not crushing the Serpent’s head. The Virgin is in the position of an orant, of a supplicant, such as She was represented in ancient times. What is most surprising is that a lily, surmounted by a host, rises from the earth or from the Serpent to the height of the Virgin’s heart.
Guitton was intrigued by this painting that Marthe mysteriously persisted in considering beautiful. It could not have been painted by Elis Romagnolis, for has Muizon points out, this painter was ten years old in 1935.
FATIMA ENGULFED AND SURPASSED.
On August 1, 1942, the year during which Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a vision gave Marthe a different representation of the Blessed Virgin. She wrote screeds describing the vision with the preciseness of a seamstress, but here are the essential points :
“ This Virgin closes one stage and opens another. She closes the stage of God’s beseeching warnings, of His threats in the course of Her many apparitions in France and elsewhere during the last centuries. She is opening the time of the overflowing of God’s mercy in favour of Her children who failed to understand His warnings and His threats. Since we did not heed the divine kindness, we suffered the punishments announced by the Virgin. Mercy is inexhaustible, and the Virgin, without taking our faults into account, becomes the expression, indeed the sacrament, of God’s mercy… ”
Marthe’s vision very cleverly transports us into a world that is not the world of Fatima. Cleverly, because it incorporates all the Marian apparitions, and even God’s punishments, but with the aim of better integrating them into her charismatic synthesis, which rejects God’s holiness of justice and trivialises His holiness of mercy.
Marthe Robin is the antithesis of Lucy of Fatima, and her so-called Virgin, the ‘mediatrix’ of a charismatic love that does not come from God, is a rival of Our Lady of Fatima. Here we are faced with a disorientation of the dogma of the Faith that gravely offends the most sacred part of Revelation, the love of God in His Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. It was to provide against this disorientation that Our Lady of Fatima descended to earth, that She appeared to three authentic child saints, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucy.
ROME IS INFORMED OF THE TRUTH
We know that the promoter of justice, ‘the Devil’s advocate,’ Msgr. Pierre Bouvier did his work well : he scrupulously compiled the demurrals that could put obstacles in the way of the beatification of Marthe Robin. This dossier was entrusted to Roman theologians who promised to analyse each of the questions raised. The result is that in the Positio on Marthe (2000 pages long) “ the part traditionally reserved for demurrals is three times longer than what is normally the case in dossiers for beatification, which clearly means that the questions raised are numerous ” (de Muizon, p. 20). The Positio was published in 2010, the Promoter of Justice was unaware of the fact ( ? !). The Bishop of Valence, the local Ordinary, has only had it in his possession for a few weeks ( ? ! !) Everything that touches the life of Marthe is decidedly atypical.
MARTHE’S FRIENDS FINALLY SEE THE TRUTH WITH OPEN EYES.
In December 1014, a book was published : “ Venerable Marthe Robin, des témoins réagissent et parlent. ” It was written by several authors, friends of Marthe who were scandalised by the allegations of Peyrous. They immediately saw the problem : “ If Marthe Robin satisfied her body by eating and concealed this fact by lying, she was not living on the Host and she was not kept alive by Christ Who reposes in it according to the Catholic Faith. She therefore had no true mission for founding the Foyers de Charité. It seems to me that these are not insignificant conclusions in a book that is meant to be the biography of a woman whose reputation of holiness justified in the eyes of ecclesiastical authorities that a process of beatification be opened in the court of Rome concerning her. ”
In order to refute Peyrous, these authors appeal to a central character in this whole business : the Demon. This was, in fact, what he was. It was the Demon who assumed Marthe’s appearance and who moved about in her sickroom… The authors give us access to certain documents but, in the end, these are even more incriminating ! Here are a few examples :
- The exorcists’ report states that “ during Marthe’s lifetime… the interior bolt of her sickroom was at 40 cm from the floor ! ” (p. 76) and thus within her reach.
- Her family was questioned : “ Marthe was very familiar with her chest of drawers. When someone was searching in them in the semi-darkness, she would say : No, it’s in the next drawer… ” (p. 184) For someone who has been blind and above all paralysed for fifty years, yes truly, this is ‘heroic’ !
- This book gives us a few snatches of the testimony of a caregiver, Thérèse Rissoan : “ … Marthe might have been annoyed that I had discovered her ”… “ I felt that I was making her ill-at-ease, I withdrew after a moment ”… “ I did not trouble myself about it. ” Entirely devoted to Fr. Finet, the “ caregivers ” (p. 77) said nothing. They had confidence in Fr. Finet when he told them that it was the Demon whom they saw under the guise of Marthe.
THE MYSTERY OF MARTHE’S SICKROOM.
Chapter twelve of the Apocalypse, the one with a woman and the Dragon is relived in this room. Jean Guitton’s penetrating mind captured this woman in an extraordinary snapshot. She did not moan with the pains of child birth, but all the same she was in a strange posture. She gave birth also, in her own way. Guitton observed the curled up position of her paralysed legs, her heels resting on her upper thighs, in the form of an upside down M, he noted. In this instance, Marthe represents the amazing icon of a diabolical inversion of the reverse side of the Miraculous Medal, and of the Eucharistic and Marian mystery that it signifies, while the painting of Mary Mediatrix symbolises the obverse of the medal.
This sickroom witnessed the lie of an entire life, but also of two homicides : that of her brother, Henri which, oddly, she did not hear, and her own. This latter occurred a few months before she was to undergo a thorough medical examination by order of her bishop. A howl rent the night of February 5, 1981. It was Marthe’s, who died “ without bleeding, ” in sordid conditions, on the floor, openmouthed, distraught, like the Serpent on our representations of the Immaculate Conception. Whether she had been “ killed by the Demon ” who had warned her : “ I will have you to the end ! ” or whether she died a natural death, it matters little. Let us leave the details of this inquiry to the police.
THE MYSTERY OF MARTHE’S TOMB.
It is just as staggering as the mystery of her sickroom, and is also based on the rock of testimony. During the exhumation of her body, “ Marthe Brosse, her niece, observed that the coffin was at the bottom of the vault, on the floor, although at the time of the burial on February 12, 1981, it had been placed at the top ” (cf. p. 190). It is a clear sign and severe warning for the postulators of the cause !
CATHOLIC COUNTER-REFORMATION TRUTH AND CHARITY
The divulgation of the greatest mystical and apostolic hoax of all times by the very postulator who had the responsibility of proving the holiness of the person who perpetrated it, is an obvious sign that the good God is still at work in His Church. Whatever pressure groups dominate the Roman Curia, and the Charismatic Renewal is not the least among them, the light of the truth has dissipated the darkness of Marthe Robin’s obscure room. Henceforth, all men of good will can know it. Nothing can stifle the truth now.
The men of the Church cannot dispense with the great doctrinal trial that our Father, Georges de Nantes demanded. For the disorientation, the money, financial and sex scandals engendered by the Charismatic Renewal proceed from a diabolical spirit of schism and heresy that entered the Church at the Second Vatican Council. When Pope Francis realises its magnitude, he will not hesitate to take the appropriate measures to deliver his dear “ Catholic and hierarchical ” Holy Mother Church from it.
Let us pray, pray much for the Holy Father !
Brother Philip of the Face of God.
He is risen ! n° 150, april 2015