YVONNE ANTONI ( nee BETESTA )
Born : 20th October 1904 - Marseilles, France
Died : 14the October 2002
Interred at St. Pierre Cemetery, Marseilles, France.
Married : 1. Albert Marius Joseph Auziere
Antoni m. 9th April 1949 - no children
Parents : Army General Henri Odilon Betesta & Baronesse Elisa Vic
Siblings : Jean & Charles
Click on the under-scored names to visit those web pages
Yvonne Antoni's husband Robert is the only person from France who's name is inscribed on the Memorial Tower at Lower Meherabad, India.
18th July, 1956 - Reubens Hotel, London
Meher Baba is giving private interviews.
A French couple, Robert Antoni, 47, and his wife Yvonne, 52, had come from Paris to meet Baba with Andrée Aron. Yvonne had first heard of Baba in Paris in 1940, during a German air raid. She had been visiting a friend when the attack came, and both hurried down into the basement shelter. When the alert was over, the elevators were not functioning, so they had to walk back up to the sixth floor.
In doing so, they helped an elderly lady reach her apartment on the fourth floor, and when they arrived at her front door the woman folded her hands saying, "Thank you, Baba."
"Who is Baba?" Yvonne asked.
At once the woman gave her a small piece of paper on which was printed: "Shri Meher Baba, write to Meherabad, India or to Princess Matchabelli, New York."
During World War Two they were not allowed to write to foreign countries, but in 1945 when the war ended, Yvonne immediately wrote to Baba and received a reply through Adi K. Irani in which Baba conveyed: "I know you and have been protecting you."
When Yvonne finally met Baba, she recalled: "We proceeded toward a small lounge where Baba was waiting for us, seated on a sofa. When I caught sight of him, I had the impression I was seeing a radiant Being; there was a bright white light in the room."
Click on images to see names
July, 1956; London
Robert Antoni was feeling disheartened in his job, working with juvenile delinquents. Baba told him:
“You should not be brought down by them, but on the contrary you should uplift them and look for God in their hearts.
As long as the heart speaks, language does not matter. God is in all. He is everywhere. He needs no words or language. He does not listen to the prayers from our mouths but from our hearts. Remain happy always, even in adverse circumstances.
If there were no turmoil, you could not test your ability to remain calm. One must try to remain happy always. One must try to make others happy.”
Andrée recalled, "Robert was as moved as I was. We were both crying, even with all the joy." After their interview, the Antonis' flew back to Paris the same evening.
With families, Baba's approach was individual and yet comprehensive, and when he embraced both a husband and wife together, the couple often felt that they had entered a new era in their marriage.
www.lordmeher.org , p.3974
Meanwhile, Robert Antoni of Paris, France, suffered a serious car accident in May 1965, and the severe shock caused him to have a nervous breakdown. His condition became so severe that his wife, Yvonne, worried that he might commit suicide, and cabled her concern to Baba. Baba sent this reply to her:
"I send my love to my dear children Yvonne and Robert. Tell Robert that he should never think of escaping. Far from being an escape, suicide is on the contrary a terrible binding. He has to face everything with the strength of Baba's love and remember me constantly".
A short while later Robert Antoni was admitted to a hospital in an emergency. He remained in a coma for three days. Yvonne cabled Baba again. She was not allowed to see her husband and was told that this was the end, that he was being kept alive artificially. All night she asked Baba to bring Robert back to life, if it was his will. The next morning a telegram came from Baba, stating: "Robert will live." At noon the hospital called Yvonne to say that Robert was better and she would be allowed to see him.
Although still ill from the accident, Robert remained alive for another year and a half. In December 1966, after being in and out of one hospital and nursing home after another, Robert requested that Yvonne cable Baba, asking if he would ever get better.
On 27 December, Baba cabled: "Robert is to accept his lot." Robert Antoni understood that this meant it was the end, and answered in a quiet voice, "I accept."
One month later, on 27 January 1967, Robert Antoni passed away at the age of 58. Yvonne was informed of it by the hospital. As she was hanging up the telephone at the same moment the doorbell rang. A telegram from Baba was delivered. It read: "Yvonne, be happy, Robert is with me. Take care of your health. Baba."
By Françoise and Daniel Lemétais - 2018
Daniel and I met Don ( Stevens ) in 1968 ( 50 years ago, Don was 49 years old then and we were in our twenties ). At that time he would come to Paris once in a while, for business purposes. And he always took advantage of these opportunities to visit Anita and Roger Vieillard and meet the few Baba-lovers who were in Paris -- in particular Yvonne Antoni (who later started the group in Marseilles), Andrée Aron (who had met Baba in Switzerland and who had been with him in Cannes), and Hilary and Robert Michiels who had met Baba in India in 1964. He would show us the films he had taken, and one memorable and poignant occasion was when he showed us, in the Spring of 1969, the quite recent film of Baba’s en-tombment, now called “The Last Darshan".
Now if we look South ( in France ), Yvonne Antoni who had met Baba in London in 1954 and who lived in Paris but was originally from Marseilles, decided, upon Don’s ( Stevens ) suggestion, to move back to her hometown after she retired.
And here is Hasan Selisik’s description of how the Marseilles group started. Hasan had come from Turkey to study architecture in Marseilles:
“In 1977, I am knocking at Mrs Antoni’s door, holding a letter from Kitty Davy. From the moment she opened the door I was flooded with the light of her little one-room apartment. As I lived close by, I started to visit her several times a week. She told me about a gentleman who would come and hold meetings about Meher Baba, and asked if I could bring some friends from the university. Which I did, from all sorts of nationalities. This gentleman was Don Stevens, Meher Baba’s tireless messenger.”
And that’s how the Marseilles group started. Don lived in Monte Carlo, then in Cagnes-sur-Mer where he started meetings there around 1980, this was called as the “Nice group” at the time. These two groups are now a single one and meet in Le Muy at Debbie Sanchez’s home, after having met for many years in Marseilles as well.
Hasan goes on:
“Most important, he created within each of us inner links of friendship. He was our companion, he has become our companion and will be our companion in other lives too. These links are eternal."
Page 18 ;
Click on images to see names
Yvonne's home in Marseilles, France
Yvonne with Hasan Selisik in Marseilles
The following is Hasan Selisik's account that he told Bal Natu which he recorded in July 2000 at Meherazad at Bal's office. It was later published in Bal's book "Tales of Meher Baba's Love".
It tells how both Hasan and his older sister came to Meher Baba but also how Yvonne Antoni came into his life later on. He also tells how both Yvonne and her husband Robert came to Baba as well.
The book pages were courtesy of Hasan Selisik.
Book details :
Compiled by : Bal Natu
Published by : Madhav Natu for Friends of Bal Natu, Ahmednagar, India
187 pp. Printed by : Meher Mownavani Publications, Hyderabad, India
Yvonne's Cemetery : St. Pierre Cemetery, Marseilles
Hasan visited her plot in mid-2018. Her box is on the top row, 6th from the left.
Her family name is incorrectly marked Anthony.