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Saint Richard Reynolds, O.Ss.S (c.1492—4 May 1535) was an English Brigittine monk executed in London for refusing the Oath of Supremacy to King Henry VIII of England.[1] He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970, among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.[2]

Saint Richard Reynolds
Devon, England
Died4 May 1535
Venerated inCatholic Church
Canonized25 October 1970
Feast4 May


Richard Reynolds was a Bridgettine monk of the Syon Abbey, founded in Twickenham by Henry V. He was born in Devon in 1492, educated at Corpus Christi, Cambridge, and joined the Abbey in 1513.[3] Cardinal Pole is quoted as saying that Reynolds was the only English monk well-versed in the three principal languages of Latin, Greek and Hebrew.[4]

Dom Hamilton is of the opinion that as Reynolds was the most renowned spiritual counsellor of the Syon community, he would have likely been consulted by Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent, who had been executed at Tyburn almost a year prior for speaking out against the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn. Reynolds had previously arranged a meeting between Elizabeth Barton and Thomas More. It was his connection to Barton that particularly compromised Reynolds in the view of the Crown officers.[4]

Reynolds was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London around the middle of April 1535, along with the Carthusian priors John Houghton,[5] Robert Lawrence and Augustine Webster (a monk of Sheen Priory in Richmond). All four were tried for the denial of the royal supremacy.

Against Reynolds, there was the additional charge of attempting to dissuade people from submitting to the king's authority. A witness claimed that Reynolds had stated that the "Dowager Princess" (Queen Catherine) was the true queen. Reynolds denied that he had declared an opinion against the king, except in confession, as compelled thereto. The practice of suborning penitents to accuse their confessors was in vogue at that time.[4]

All four were executed on 4 May 1535 by drawing and quartering at Tyburn Tree in London after being dragged through the streets. Also convicted of treason for speaking against the King's marriage to Anne Boleyn, and martyred with them on that day, was Blessed John Haile, the parish priest of Isleworth where Syon Abbey lay. The quarters of the body of Reynolds – the first man to refuse the oath – were chopped to pieces and hung in different parts of London, including the gate of Syon Abbey.


He was beatified in 1886 and canonised by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales on 25 October 1970. His feast day is 4 May.

He is the patron of St Richard Reynolds Catholic College in Twickenham. The college is the federation of St Richard Reynolds Catholic High School and the new St Richard Reynolds Catholic Primary School for pupils aged 4 – 18.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "About St. Richard Reynolds", St. Richard Reynolds Catholic College Archived 16 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c Hamilton O. S. B., Adam. The Angel of Syon, The Life and Martyrdom of Blessed Richard Reynolds, Sands & Co., London, 1905
  5. ^ Wainewright, John. "Blessed John Houghton." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 3 February 2014

External linksEdit