This past December, Fr. Scott R. Pilarz, SJ, president of Georgetown Prep, announced to the school community that the library's name in Boland Hall, Prep's oldest building, would be restored in honor of St. Robert Southwell, SJ, a Jesuit martyr.
On March 4, 2016, Fr. Pilarz invited faculty and staff to a ceremony and reception for the blessing of the new portrait of Robert Southwell. Ally Morgan, a member of the school's art department, created the beautiful portrait that now hangs over the fireplace in the library above a collection of Southwell's literary works.
Restoring the library's name and the blessing of the portrait have a special meaning to Fr. Pilarz. In 2004, Fr. Pilarz authored Robert Southwell and the Mission of Literature, 1561-1595: Writing Reconciliation. In the book, Fr. Pilarz "explores the literary legacy of Robert Southwell and the Jesuit's impact on the point of convergence of aesthetic, theological, political and personal influences that determined the ethos of the period."
Fr. Pilarz noted, "Naming a library for Robert Southwell is most appropriate. He was an important and prolific sixteenth-century author. His contemporaries, including Shakespeare and Elizabeth I, were influenced by his poetry and prose. He exemplifies the centuries-old Jesuit commitment to literature and the arts. Moreover, in a time of fierce sectarian strife, he employed his literary efforts to promote reconciliation and mutual respect. Finally, as an early member of the Jesuit English Province, which would later launch the Maryland Mission in 1634, Southwell helps us recall Prep's roots."
Along with the new portrait of Southwell and a collection of his works, a framed copy of Southwell's poem "A Child My Choice" is now displayed in the library.