|Relics of St. Robert Southwell at Holywell in England|
Every writer has their source of inspiration and influence. There is not one author who doesn't hold another author up as their hero. There is always someone who gives us the courage to embark on our own dreams because they gave the example first. That person may just be our example, or they may actually influence the way we write or what we write about.
For myself, St. Robert Southwell is the reason I became a writer. I had never even heard of this poet saint, until I decided to write my senior thesis on him in college. Southwell was a priest in Elizabethan England, who was martyred just for being a priest and providing the Mass and Sacraments for suffering Catholics in England. He stealthily avoided all the priest hunters for six years in London, an impossible task, until he was captured because of betrayal, which led to his martyrdom at Tyburn.
I was blessed with the opportunity of traveling to England on a pilgrimage to visit the sites of the English martyrs. It was an unforgettable experience, and one that was in a sense life-changing for me. For although I have always loved to write and been fascinated with books since I was a kid, it wasn't until Southwell that I considered pursuing writing full time.
Southwell was a priest, but also a poet. His writings were distributed secretly to the Catholics through his hidden printing press. His works kept the Faith alive during the persecutions, and his talent rivaled those of his time like Shakespeare. Southwell's life inspired me because he used his gift of writing to compose literature that would inspire readers throughout history.
While in England visiting all the holy sites, I realized that God gives every person specific gifts that are meant to be used for His glory. We cannot waste these talents. Southwell made me realize that being an author is a way of life that can lead to holiness. I knew then and there I would be a writer and try in my own way to bring readers to God.
Check out Southwell's writings available on Amazon here. And be sure to read his poem "A Child My Choice" here which is one of my favorites.