Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Martyr in Chains? Dean Thomas Raynald or Reynolds

Because he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, Thomas Raynold or Reynolds died in prison on November 24, 1559. A brief biography, which does not describe either his courageous refusal or what he must have suffered in the Marshalsea prison:

THOMAS REYNOLDS, D.D. (Oxon.) 1536: He was Dean of Exeter (1555), Warden of Merton College, Oxford (1545) and Rector of Holsworthy, Devon. He was deprived of all these preferments, and was committed to the Marshalsea September 4, 1559, where he died November 24 following. He had been Rector of Pinhoe, Devon, 1530-7, as Mr Gillow records. He had also been Rector of Lapworth, Warwickshire, 1540-1556. At Queen Mary's death he was bishop-nominate of Hereford.

Dom David Knowles suggests that Thomas Reynolds could have been the brother of St. Richard Reynolds, the "Angel of Syon", one of the protomartyrs of the English Reformation (May 4, 1535). During the reign of Henry VIII, he must have accepted the Oaths required, but he could not accept the oaths required by Elizabeth I's new religious settlement. Did he adopt The Book of Common Prayer during Edward VI's reign?

He is not listed among the dilati (delayed for more information) or the praetermissi (passed over the first time), or as one of the martyrs in chains of those whose causes were introduced in the late nineteenth century after the Restoration of the Hierarchy in England and as research continued in the early twentieth century. The issue, of course, is whether or not he died in prison as a result of odium fidei (hatred of the faith)--or were there other issues contributing to his imprisonment and death?

This just demonstrates how careful the Catholic Church is when we proclaim saints, whether confessors or martyrs. Although his death was obscure, the date was noted. May he rest in the peace of Christ.

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