Saint Robert Southwell
A Jesuit missionary priest to Elizabethan England during a time of great persecution of the Catholic Faith, Saint Robert Southwell was renowned even during his lifetime for his spiritual writings, poetry and zeal for the Faith of our Fathers.
Elizabethan England was rife with priest-hunters, spies and anti-Catholic legislation, making it an act of Treason to be a Catholic priest within the realm. The Queen’s top priest-hunter, Richard Topcliffe was a man out for blood and Saint Robert Southwell eventually became his number one target.
When he was fifteen years of age, Saint Robert Southwell left his home country of England, which for a thousand years had been a shining light of the Catholic Church and a country dedicated in a special way to Our Lady, for Douai. He left Douai to walk to Rome in 1578 with the intention of entering the Jesuit Order. Saint Edmund Campion’s martyrdom inspired his former companion to follow in Campion’s footsteps and take the outlawed Faith back into England.
During his time in Rome, Saint Robert Southwell studied Latin, wrote poetry and plays and undertook the rigorous spiritual formation and exercises of St, Ignatius of Loyola, becoming a true Jesuit priest.
On May 8th 1586 Saint Robert Southwell rode out from Rome and began his clandestine journey to England, where it was illegal to be a Catholic priest, to celebrate or hear Mass, to even carry rosary beads or light devotional candles. In England, Saint Robert Southwell travelled daringly in disguise, hearing Confessions and eluding the government spies and priest hunters.
He lived for a time in Arundel House as the spiritual director of Saint Philip Howard’s holy wife Anne while Saint Philip lingered in the Tower of London for refusing to attend a Protestant service. Saint Robert Southwell wrote to Saint Philip Howard in what is now known among Catholics as the famous ‘Epistle of Comfort’. Although they did not meet, Saint Philip Howard’s dog in the Tower of London visited Father Robert in his prison cell once the Jesuit had been arrested.
After being tortured by Richard Topcliffe for ten days in Topcliffe’s home, Saint Robert Southwell was imprisoned in the Gatehouse and then Tower of London for three years. Not even Topcliffe’s barbarity was able to break him. Finally, after a sham trial in which he was sentenced to death at the age of 33, this holy Jesuit priest was dragged to the infamous triple Tyburn gallows and hanged, drawn and quartered. Many spectators were edified by this young Catholic priest’s witness to the outlawed Catholic priesthood, his words and prayers.
Learn about the inspiring journey, writings, missions, life and martyrdom of Saint Robert Southwell, one of our English Martyrs in this new film. Our film production style has been internationally praised for not only presenting information, details and facts but a prayerful and spiritual film experience.
Length and Format:
The film runs for 30 minutes and is available on Region Free DVD worldwide.