06 February 2009

Marthe Robin: Living on Love Alone

On March 13, 1902 at Châteauneuf-de-Galaure in southeastern France, a baby girl was born named Marthe Louise Robin. She would become a victim soul for Christ in a most severe way. She offered her sufferings to our dear Lord and was most desirous to share in His Passion and death. In October of 1930 she received the Wounds of our Lord’s Passion, the stigmata. From that point on, every Friday, she experienced the most severe pains of Christ’s sufferings on the cross. This was preceded at the very young age of twenty-six by paralysis.

I am the Bread of Life; he that comes to Me shall not hunger (John 6:35).

Author Jim Gallagher writes: “For the next 53 years Marthe's only food was the Holy Eucharist. Once a week her spiritual father brought her the Sacred Host. On more than one occasion both he and other visiting priests, saw the Host apparently leap from their hands and fly directly to her mouth. Even a bishop testified that he saw it apparently dissolve once it passed her lips. Her Holy Communion was weekly. Once she had received Jesus she went immediately into ecstasy and then began her weekly re-living of Christ's Passion and crucifixion. The stigmata and the scourging, the crowning with thorns appeared on her body. The whole crucifixion seemed to be re-enacted on this little countrywoman and from the moment of Christ's death on the Cross she too appeared dead. Thus she would remain until 'called back' to life under obedience by her spiritual father on the Sunday.”

The Son of Man has no where to lay His Head (Luke 9:58).

In addition to not eating any food other than the Eucharist, she also did not sleep.

Author and priest Henri Nouwen tells Marthe’s story this way: “Marthe Robin is one of the most impressive examples of God’s hidden Presence in our world. She was born in 1902. At sixteen she fell ill, and her illness, for which the doctors could find no explanation, grew worse and worse. Slowly but surely she became aware that God was calling her to a life in which she would be linked in a special way to the suffering of Jesus. When she was 23, she wrote an ‘act of abandonment’. In it she gave to the God of love all that she had: ‘I belong to You without any reservation, forever. O Beloved of my soul! It is You only Whom I want, and for Your love I renounce all.’ When she was 26 her legs became totally paralyzed, and soon afterwards her arms. From then on she did not eat, drink, or sleep. From 1928 to her death in 1981 she took no food other than weekly Holy Communion. When I first heard about this it sounded to me like a pious fairy tale, but now that I’ve talked to a lot of people who knew Marthe Robin personally, I realize that God can achieve a great deal more in a human being than we who are of little faith are prepared to believe possible. The total ‘abstinence’ of Marthe is one of the ways in which Jesus showed His love to her. In September 1930 Jesus appeared to Marthe and asked her, ‘Do you wish to become as I am?’ She replied , ‘Yes’ and soon afterwards she received the Wounds of Jesus in her hands, feet and side. She also received the crown of thorns. From that time on, week by week Marthe began suffering fully into the Passion of Jesus. Her suffering with Jesus was so intense that tears of blood flowed from her eyes and the marks of invisible thorns appeared across her head. Every Friday she entered so fully into the death of Jesus that only on Saturday did she come to herself again; and until Sunday and Monday she remained in a state of total exhaustion. As the years passed her suffering grew deeper. In the beginning she suffered with Jesus, but little by little she became the suffering Jesus.”

Ave Maria

Marthe Robin had a great love for our Blessed Mother and was particularly fond of the Rosary. It was the words of Saint Louis de Montfort which nurtured her love for the Virgin Mother of God: “When the Holy Spirit, her Spouse, finds Mary in a soul, He flies into that soul, and enters it fully, and communicates to it most abundantly.”

During a great deal of her life in which she was bedridden she met thousands upon thousands of people who visited her in her small room. She ended each visit, which averaged about ten minutes, with a prayer. In addition to the personal visits she received a steady stream of letters even though she was completely blind by the age of thirty-eight. She died on February 6, 1981 at the age of 78. She left us her writings and her insights which were written down by her spiritual director, Père Georges Finet. Her funeral was attended by thousands including six bishops and more than two-hundred priests.