Marthe Robin (1902-1981), founder of the Foyers de charité? A “princess of lies”, according to Carmelite Conrad DeMeester, expert in feminine mystics. His thesis, argued in a posthumous book published last fall, opened a debate which perhaps goes beyond the sole case of the “stigmatized” Châteauneuf-de-Galaure (Drôme). On the one hand, this shocking book calls into question the functioning of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Vatican body which examines the files of candidates for beatification. The Carmelite expert’s report on the cause of Marthe Robin, delivered in 1989, was not accepted by the Vatican. For what ?
On the other hand, the hiatus between what DeMeester shows – Marthe Robin forger – and the many testimonies about her charity, her faith, her hope, raises questions. In 2014, Pope Francis recognized the “heroicity of his virtues”, which earned him the status of “venerable”. Can a life be heroic in some aspects and failing in others?
But did DeMeester get it right? Six months after its publication, his investigation was contested through two books, and deepened by a third. In The real face of Marthe Robin. History of the canonization process , Father Bernard Peyrous, postulator of the cause between 1996 and 2017, recognizes the quality of the work of the Carmelite on the writings of Marthe Robin produced between 1930 and 1941. The young woman describes her own mystical experiences by copying the texts of several dozen spiritual authors, without ever naming them. But Father Peyrous does not confront the contradictions noted by DeMeester. At the beginning of the 1930s, Marthe gave a speech to her spiritual father and wrote another, completely different one, in her diary. Or, while claiming to be paralyzed, she herself writes texts allegedly attributed to secretaries. For Father Peyrous, there is nothing to add to the judgment of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
A fervent admirer
Another defender of the venerable, Father Pierre Vignon, a Drôme resident familiar with Marthe, had immense admiration for her. “She loved me a lot because I made her laugh,” he declared to Pilgrim last October. Her Marthe Robin in truth is “a song of recognition to Father Finet and Marthe Robin”, in beautiful language, fervent, caustic on occasion, including with regard to Father Peyrous whose remarks he contests: no, Marthe Robin is not not the fruit of adultery; no, she could not move; no, Father Finet did not control Marthe or be controlled by her (which DeMeester maintains). Lepère Vignon validates the press release published by the family of the venerable in reaction to the Carmelite’s book: “Marthe Robin was a good, fine and delicate person. »
A third book, published at the end of May, fuels the debate around “stigmatized” with completely other factual elements, established after meticulous work. Ilya Thirty Years, the author of Martha Robin. The verdict , had delivered an expert report as part of the beatification process. The publication of DeMeester’s book, which he considers to be rigorous, led him to reopen the file and enrich it with new documents.
A necessary clarification
“Before being a mystic, Marthe Robin was a patient. The trial should have been initiated on this basis,” he confided to Pilgrim . The historian notes that the testimonies have been overexploited, and the mystical phenomena increased: “Marthe Robin moved, he continues, she ate, we have the proof; no one saw her stigmata; we built a legend. It is appropriate to bring her back to what she is, a very sick person who suffered from personality dislocation.” Joachim Bouflet does not claim to pronounce a verdict. But he pleads for the questioning of the cause for beatification of Marthe Robin until clarity is achieved. The opaque functioning of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints does not satisfy “the legitimate expectations of the people of God”, he further notes.
Can we save Marthe’s cause? If the patient staged a false mystical experience in the years 1930 to 1941, could her subsequent spiritual evolution ultimately unify it, making her an inspiring figure for many? Professor Jacques Besson, from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), specialist in the relationship between psychoanalysis and spirituality, does not rule out this possibility: “Neuropsychological disorders are not exclusive to a rich spiritual life; we recognize the tree to its fruits.”
>>>Also read on Lepelerin.com: Marthe Robin, mystic or mystifier?