St. Robert Southwell
February 21, Saint


Roman Martyrology: At London in England, Saint Robert Southwell, a priest of the Society of Jesus and a martyr. The ministered in this city and its environs for many years, and composed spiritual canticles, until, having been arrested on account of his priesthood, he was most severely tortured upon the orders of Queen Elizabeth, and consummated his martyrdom at Tyburn by the rope

Canonization date: 25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI


Raised in a piously Catholic family. Educated at Douai and at Paris, France. Joined the Jesuits in 1580. Prefect of studies in the English College at Rome, Italy. Ordained in 1584. Returned to England in 1586 to minister to covert Catholics, working with Henry Garnett. Chaplain to Ann Howard, wife of Saint Philip Howard, in 1589. Wrote a number of pamphlets on living a pious life. Arrested in 1595 for the crime of being a priest. Repeatedly tortured in hopes of learning the location of other priests. He was so badly treated in prison that his family petitioned for a quick trial, knowing that his certain death would be better than the conditions in which he was housed. He spent three years imprisoned in the Tower of London, and was tortured on the rack ten times; between abuses he studied the Bible and wrote poetry. He was finally tried and convicted for treason, having admitted that he administered the Sacraments. One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Hanged, drawn and quartered on  February 21, 1595 in Tyburn, London, England, while hanging, he repeatedly made the sign of the cross so the onlookers tugged at his legs to help him die quicker.



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