Quote/s of the Day – 21 February – the Memorial of St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church and St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Priest and Martyr
The Burning Babe, by Saint Robert Southwell
As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.
It’s not surprising, it’s one of the great poems of the English language.
St Robert Southwell S.J. (1561-1595) Martyr, Religious Priest, Poet, Hymnodist, Writer, clandestine missionary was born in 1561 in Horsham Saint Faith, Norfolk, England and he was martyred by being hanged, drawn and quartered on 21 February 1595 (aged 33) in Tyburn, London, England. St Robert was Canonised on 25 October 1970 by Blessed Pope Paul VI.
“His poetry – we don’t know exactly when he began to write but it must have been very young because he wrote a great deal of which we have the record and by now the English speaking world knows Robert Southwell. His two outstanding poems are ‘The Burning Babe’ and ‘The Virgin Mary to Christ On The Cross.’” (Ven Fr John A Hardon SJ)
St Peter Damian quotes here:
And some from St Robert Southwell here: