Process of Beatification of Marthe Robin

Marthe Robin

Marthe Robin recognised as « Venerable » by Pope Francis

On 7 November 2014, Pope Francis authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree recognising the heroic virtues of Marthe Robin (1902 -1981), a French laywoman who founded the Foyers de Charité. This is an essential step towards beatification.

What is the declaration of « heroic virtue » ?

A deceased person who has a reputation for sanctity, is declared veberable when their « heroic virtue » is recognised by the Catholic Church.

« heroic virtue » is a recognition of the efforts made by the person to grow in virtue, welcome the grace of God, practice charity, conform to the Gospel and be faithful to the Church. These criteria are much more important than extraordinary or even miraculous events that took place during the Christian life of the person whose cause is being promoted.

In proclaiming Marthe Robin « Venerable », the Church gives as a model for Christians the way in which she lived the theologial virtues (faith, hope and charity) and cardinal virtues (justice, prudence, courage and temperance). The Church recognises the exemplary value of the life of Marthe, who gave herself entirely to God and to others in a selfless way, in facing difficult situations with a strength which was not simply human.

How has Marthe Robin been declared « Venerable » ?

The opening of the cause

Marthe Robin died on 6 February 1981. Five years later, the Foyers de Charité asked the Bishop of Valance, Mgr Marchand, to open a process of beatification. The Bishop chose Fr Ravanel as postulator for the cause. The Diocesan enquiry which opens the process of beatification of the « Servant of God » thus began in 1986.

The Diocesan Enquiry

In order to lead this enquiry, two experts (a theologian and a historian) were appointed in 1988. The first aspect that was studied was the reputation of sanctity of Marthe Robin among the Christian people. Then between 1988 and 1996, over 120 witnesses and experts were consulted. At the end of this process a file of 17000 pages (critical biography, witness testimonies, writings and other documents) was sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. At this stage, Marthe Robin is described as a Servant of God.

The examination by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

On 24 April 1998, a decree of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints accepted the validity of the diocesan enquiry. Documents were then prepared to be examined in the first instance by historians and theologians who give a detailed opinion, then to the Promoter of the Faith (popularly known as the Devil’s advocate) whose role is to present any potential arguments against beatification or canonisation. Finally the Cardinals and Bishops meet to discuss the cause. The writing of the Positio, a 2000 page summary of the beatification file which presented the results of the diocesan enquiry was finished on 6 May 2010.

Heroic Virtue

The Cardinals and Bishops of the Congregation then decide whether to submit the cause to the Pope so that there might be a declaration of heroic virtue, that is « the perfection of Christian and human love lived out in the whole of life ». Marthe Robin was declared Venerable by Pope Francis on 7 November 2014.

What are the next stages?

The recognition of a miracle

The Postulator of the Cause of Beatification, Fr Bernard Peyrous, will shortly deposit in Rome a file presenting a miracle obtained through the intercession of Marthe Robin. This miracle will first go through a diocesan enquiry and will then be studied by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints who will look at testimonies, documents and scientific studies.

The Beatification

If the commission responsible for this enquiry recognises the validity of the miracle, the Pope can then decide to declare her « Blessed » on a date that he finds appropriate.