Marthe Robin and the Foyers of Charity, by Martin Blake, (Theotokos Books, 156 pages, 2010, £7.95)
Thanks to our National Association of Catholic Families friends at Theotokos Books, we have the opportunity to review and discuss this recently published book on the life and work of Marthe Robin.
Many people in the English-speaking world have not heard of this 20th century mystic who is reported to have subsisted only on weekly Holy Communion for 53 years.
She has an interesting connection for NACF members in that she helped guide the founding of the Community of St John, the religious order that provides spiritual support for our annual pilgrimages and youth retreats. But perhaps her greatest impact was as cofounder (along with Fr Georges Finet) of the Foyers of Charity in 1936.
The Foyers of Charity are essentially lay communities consecrated to Mary Mother of the Church and led by a priest. Their apostolic work is principally to form and educate lay people in the faith through 5-day silent retreats.
There are currently 75 Foyer communities established in 41 countries throughout the world, but as of yet none in Britain. In 1986, the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed recognition of the Foyers of Charity as an international association of the faithful of pontifical right.
The author covers the many interesting aspects of Marthe Robin’s life. He discusses her early life, her sufferings, the fact that she bore the stigmata for many years and her amazing ability to influence over 100,000 visitors throughout her life though she was confined to her bed for over 50 years. She died at age 78 in 1981 and her cause for beatification was opened in 1986. This book is a good read that will serve to bring Marthe Robin’s story to Anglophones everywhere.
About the Author
Martin Blake was born in Somerset in 1928. He was educated at Radley and Worcester College, Oxford, and became a schoolmaster. In 1955 he was received into the Catholic Church in Shrewsbury, much influenced by the French Benedictines of Solesmes Abbey. He is an oblate of Prinknash Abbey and a Knight of Our Lady. His interest in the Foyers of Charity goes back to 1982, and he has attended many Foyer retreats since then, while also promoting the “English Friends of the Foyers.”
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