Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 21 January – Blessed Thomas Reynolds (1562-1642) Priest Martyr

Saint of the Day – 21 January – Blessed Thomas Reynolds (1562-1642) Priest Marty.r Born in 1562 in Oxfordshire, England as Thomas Green and died by being hanged, drawn, and quartered on 21 January 1642 at Tyburn, London, England. Also known as – Richard Reynolds (not to be confused with the Saint of the same name, of the Order of Bridgettine Monks executed in England by Henry VIII), Thomas Green. Additional Memorials – 4 May as one of the 107 Martyrs of England and Wales, also known as Thomas Hemerford and One Hundred and Six Companion Martyrs, 29 October as one of the Martyrs of Douai, 1 December as one of the Martyrs of Oxford University. Thomas was Beatified on 15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

Painting in of Blessed Thomas in the English College, Valladolid, Spain

We believe Thomas was born in Oxfordshire (or possibly Warwickshire) into a Catholic family. In keeping with the necessity of the times, he left England to study for the Priesthood on the continent, initially going to Rheims before continuing his studies from September 1590 in the English College, at Valladolid, Spain, as one of its first students and finally, at another newly founded Jesuit institution, the English College of St Gregory in Seville.

Thomas was Ordained a Priest in Seville in 1592 and immediately returned to England, where he ministered to the recusant Catholic community until his arrest in 1606, in the wave of anti-Catholic measures that were taken, following the Gunpowder Plot of November 1605. Whilst the duration of his early years of ministry reflected the slightly less difficult times for Catholics during that period, the Gunpowder Plot changed the atmosphere, making it far more hostile.

Thomas was one of the Priests who were fortunate, in being just exiled from England rather than immediately Martyred, in response to the Plot. However, he soon returned and once more set about caring for Catholics in secret. This he continued for about twenty years until he was arrested in 1628.

He was put on trial and condemned to death but given a reprieve at the behest of the Queen, Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, a Catholic. Although imprisoned, he was kept under relatively mild conditions which included being allowed to receive visitors readily. Many Catholics visited him, not only to offer him care and support but also for his spiritual guidance and the Sacraments.

In 1635 he was one of a number of Priests who would pay a bond and then be released from prison which allowed him to minister to the local Catholic population in London on a regular basis. With the Crown at that time having Catholic sympathies and the rather more anti-Catholic feelings of Parliamentarians being diffused due to Parliament’s long suspension, this was a period when the pressures on Catholics were eased. It was due to this that a number of Priests were able to act in a similar manner to Thomas.

The financial needs of King Charles I forced him to recall Parliament in 1640. At this time, Parliament was increasingly being dominated by Puritan protestants who were hostile to Catholicism. As a result, conditions for Catholics and Priests became far more difficult with Priests, once more, being confined full time to their prisons. The trials and death sentences for Priests resumed and one of the early victims was Thomas. Now eighty years of age, by nature a gentle and slightly timid person and being somewhat infirm, Thomas admitted his fears of facing execution and how he would be able to manage the ordeal he was soon to undergo. He spent his final couple of days in prayer and asking for the prayers of his fellow Priests, imprisoned with him.

On the morning of his execution, 21 January 1642, Thomas was embued by grace with a sense of complete peace and serenity. He had been filled with the courage and strength of Christ, so much so, that he was no longer afraid of what lay ahead and using supplies that had been brought to him in prison, he said his final Holy Mass, before being summoned to his execution.

On arrival at Tyburn, he addressed the assembled crowd for nearly half-an-hour. He pointed out that in forty years work as a Priest in England, no-one could testify to him having ever uttered a word of treason and that his sole aim had been to ‘reduce strayed souls to the fold of the Catholic Church.’ He added that he had no desire to criticise or meddle with the actions of Parliament but rather, that God would bless them and teach them what to do best for the kingdom. He extended his prayers to the King and Queen and all the Kingdom which he hoped would flourish. He concluded by asking forgiveness of all he had offended and granting forgiveness to any, who sought it for actions against him, particularly in regard to his imminant death. Turning to the sheriff overseeing the execution, he specifically thanked him and for his patience whilst he addressed the crowd and prayed, that God would reward him for that, by one day making him a saint in Heaven. The sheriff in turn commended himself to Reynolds and was heard to remark to one of those present that he had never seen a man die like Thomas. Having finished his address, Thomas knelt to pray. He and Roe were placed in the cart, embraced one another, then recited the Miserere Psalm in turn, until the cart was pulled away.

When the sheriff offered Thomas a blindfold, he replied: “I dare look death in the face.”  The sheriff allowed the Martyrs to hang till they expired to spare them the suffering of being drawn and quartered, which he only carried out after they were dead. Catholics amongst the crowd, of which there were found to be many, came forwards to dip cloths in their blood to provide Relics for veneration.

Thomas Reynolds was Beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929, therefore, he is among the group of One Hundred and Seven Martyrs of England and Wales. On the image below, our Blessed Thomas Reynolds appears at no 81, the 5th image on the second-last row.

Author:

Passionate Catholic. Being a Catholic is a way of life - a love affair "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site, which is now using the Traditional Calendar, will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. This Site is placed under the Patronage of my many favourite Saints and especially, St Paul. "For the Saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings. PLEASE ADVISE ME OF ANY GLARING TYPOS etc - In June 2021 I lost 95% sight in my left eye and sometimes miss errors. Thank you and I pray all those who visit here will be abundantly blessed. Pax et bonum! 🙏

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s