Surviving On Holy Communion


The French mystic Marthe Robin only ate the consecrated host and relived Christ’s passion every Friday for fifty years. Countless Catholics came to draw inspiration and strength around her housebound existence. The Foyers de Charité is the movement she founded.




The venerable Marthe Robin (1902-1981), a Roman Catholic lay woman mystic, was born into a peasant farming family at Châteauneuf-de-Galaure (France). She became bedridden when she was 21 years old, and remained so until her death. Robin’s sickness strengthened her faith and the Lord granted her extraordinary mystic gifts.

In 1925, she wrote an Act of abandon and love to the will of God. She desired to consecrate herself to Christ and from then onwards loved the Eucharist more and more. From 1930 onwards, Robin only ate the consecrated host and nothing else. This unsought fast lasted until her death 51 years later.

Her stigmata first appeared in early October 1930. A little later, she started to relive the Passion of Christ every Friday, and this too lasted until her death in 1981. Many friends, family members and numerous priests witnessed this. Robin herself appealed for discretion concerning these phenomena and encouraged Christians not to focus on them.

Although she was bedridden, Robin met countless people. She participated in the life of her diocese and her village as well as she was able. It is estimated that in the span of fifty years, she individually met more than 100,000 people, including hundreds of priests and many bishops. She was also a prolific letter writer, which she managed by dictating to a secretary.

Robin received visits from people such as Jean Guitton, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, Sr. Magdeleine, founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus, and many other prominent French Catholics.

She died in 1981. Her funeral was a triumph. It took place in the sanctuary at Châteauneuf-de-Galaure, in the presence of four bishops and over 200 priests. Her tomb is in the cemetery of St. Bonnet. The number of visitors going to pray at the farmhouse on La Plaine, where Robin lived, doubled between 2001 and 2011, reaching 40,000 a year.

The “Charity Homes”
In 1936, with the help of Fr. Georges Finet, her spiritual father until her death, she founded the first Foyer de Charité (Charity Home). The foyer organized five-day retreats, and around two thousand retreatants participated annually. Most of them, at the end of the retreat, went to visit Marthe.

Lay people participated in the life of this foyer under the supervision of a priest. This involvement of lay people was unusual in pre-Vatican II Catholicism. Since then, a total of 75 of these communities have been founded in 44 countries, either directly by Marthe herself or inspired by her example.

In 1984, the Foyers de Charité were officially recognized by the Catholic Church as an association of lay faithful of pontifical right, under the supervision of the Pontifical Council for laypeople.

The main mission of the Foyers de Charité is to participate in the new evangelization through the preaching of spiritual retreats that are open to everyone. They offer 6-day retreats in silence, during which the participants are welcomed as if they are part of the family and receive teachings that summarize the fundamentals of the Catholic faith.

Each year, the Foyers de Charité welcomes more than 50,000 people on a spiritual retreat. All adults are welcome, from the age of 17, whether they are believers or not. Everyone receives the same loving welcome that is respectful of each person as an individual and their own reasons for coming to the retreat.

The members of the Foyers welcome them into their community as part of the family. They make every effort to make everyone feel comfortable and free to participate in the activities proposed or not.

A Cluster Of Initiatives
From 1930, Marthe Robin ceaselessly prayed to have a Catholic school in her native town. Her prayer was heard and now the members of the Foyers de Charité run schools, homes that take in children in difficulty or with disabilities and abandoned babies, homes for the elderly, dispensaries, canteens for the poor, a diocesan spiritual center, a printing shop and some local religious radio stations.

The life of the Foyers de Charité is supported by a network called Enlarged Foyer–made up of the members of the Foyer and those taking part in the spiritual retreats–which testify to the light, charity and love of Christ throughout the world.

The Foyers de Charité have in turn influenced the founders of various communities within the charismatic renewal, including the Community of St. John, the Emmanuel Community, and the Community of the Beatitudes.

The “heroic virtues” of Marthe Robin were recognized on 7 November 2014 by Pope Francis. She is therefore declared venerable and the recognition of a miracle could open the door to her beatification.

Share Your Thoughts

All comments are moderated

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue


Jesus wept!

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

Winds of the Spirit

Five Loves

Winds of the Spirit

Lay Jesuits

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage


Presents, discusses and draws readers to reflect on issues of outmost relevance to the world today.


Very often, mission is carried out in frontier situations around the world. Those who embrace these situations have much to share.


Writer Ilsa Reyes will be exploring the richness of Pope Francis’s latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti with a view of helping our readers to get a grasp of the this beautiful papal document.


Puts to the front committed and inspiring people around the world who embrace humanitarian and religious causes with altruism and passion.


Focus on a given theme of interest touching upon social, economic and religious issues.


As the Philippines prepares to celebrate 500 years of the arrival of Christianity. Fr. James Kroeger leads us in this series into a discovery journey of the landmark events in the history of faith in the Philippine archipelago.


Aims to nurture and inspire our hearts and minds while pondering upon timely themes.


The large archipelago of the Philippines, in its richness of peoples and cultures, offers varied and challenging situations for mission.


Reflections and vocation stories that shape up the lives of young people.


As humor and goodness of heart are qualities of Christian and missionary life, the new column “Mission is fun” will be publishing some anecdotes and stories that have happened in a missionary context to lighten up the spirits and trigger a smile in our faces.


To help readers of World Mission live this year dedicated to Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, Tita Puangco, writer and lecturer, shares in this section insights on the spirituality of communion.


A historic view of the Catholic movements that emerged from the grassroots as an inspiration by the Holy Spirit.


On the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, radio host and communicator Ilsa Reyes, in her monthly column, encourages Christians and people of good will to be one with their fellow people of other sects, religions and tribes.


Questions to a personality of the Church or secular world on matters of interest that touch upon the lives of people.


News from the Church, the missionary world and environment that inform and form the consciences.


A feature on environmental issues that are affecting the whole world with the view of raising awareness and prompting action.


The editor gives his personal take on a given topic related to the life of the Church, the society or the world.


A monthly column on themes touching the lives of young people in the Year of the Youth in the Philippines by radio host and communicator I lsa Reyes.


A missionary living in the Chinese world shares his life-experiences made up of challenges and joyous encounters with common people.


Life stories of people who deserve to be known for who they were, what they did and what they stood for in their journey on earth.


Stories of people whom a missionary met in his life and who were touched by Jesus in mysterious ways.


Critical reflection from a Christian perspective on current issues.


Comboni missionary Fr. Lorenzo Carraro makes a journey through history pinpointing landmark events that changed the course of humanity.


A biographical sketch of a public person, known for his/her influence in the society and in the Church, showing an exemplary commitment to the service of others.


Gives fresh, truthful, and comprehensive information on issues that are of concern to all.


A column aimed at helping the readers live their Christian mission by focusing on what is essential in life and what it entails.


Peoples, events, religion, culture and the society of Asia in focus.


The human heart always searches for greatness in God’s eyes, treading the path to the fullness of life - no matter what it takes.


The subcontinent of India with its richness and variety of cultures and religions is given center stage.


The African continent in focus where Christianity is growing the fastest in the world.


Well-known writer and public speaker, Fr. Jerry Orbos, accompanies our journey of life and faith with moments of wit and inspiration based on the biblical and human wisdom.


On the year dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyala, Fr. Lorenzo Carraro walks us through the main themes of the Ignatian spirituality.


Fr. John Taneburgo helps us to meditate every month on each of the Seven Last Words that Jesus uttered from the cross.


In this section, Fr. Lorenzo delves into the secrets and depths of the Sacred Scriptures opening for us the treasures of the Sacred Book so that the reader may delight in the knowledge of the Word of God.


Reflections about the synodal journey on a conversational and informal style to trigger reflection and sharing about the synodal path the Church has embarked upon.

Shopping Cart