Prayers, Quips and Quotes: St. Robert Southwell, Feast Day Feb. 21

St. Robert Southwell
St. Robert Southwell

The feast day of St. Robert Southwell is celebrated on Feb. 21.

St. Robert Southwell was born in Norfolk, England in 1561 to a family of nobility. He attended the Roman Catholic college at Douai.


In 1580, St. Robert joined the Society of Jesus.   Robert studied theology in Rome.   He was ordained a priest in 1584, the same year an act was passed by the Elizabethan government forbidding Catholic priests to remain over 40 days in England. The punishment was death.


At his own request, St. Robert Southwell was sent to England as a missionary. He administered the sacraments for six years as the government kept him under surveillance. In 1572 he was arrested and tortured. St. Robert refused to reveal the names of fellow Catholics. He was imprisoned for three years before he was brought to trial. While in prison, he was allowed to write. He wrote many poems and essays which were published after his death.


St. Robert Southwell was tried for treason. The following day, he was hanged at Tyburn. He denied any evil intentions toward the Queen or her government.


Pope Paul VI canonized St. Robert Southwell as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales on Oct. 25, 1970.



Our life is but a warfare,
and we are always in the field
against our professed enemies;
for in our baptism, we bid them battle
by defying and renouncing them.



Quote of St. Robert Southwell



February is the Month of the Passion of the Lord



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