Saint Richard Reynolds O.Ss.S, was a Bridgettine monk of 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, and was the only English monk well-versed in the three principal languages of Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Richard Reynolds was martyred at Tyburn on 4th May 1535, now his feast day, for refusing the Oath of Supremacy to King Henry VIII of England. He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970, among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
The painting (left) was specially commissioned for the Official Opening of St Richard Reynolds Catholic College on 19th September 2013. The artist is Jared Gilbey. St Richard Reynolds is shown wearing the habit of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, he holds the book of Psalms in his left hand and a palm reed in his right hand, a symbol of his martyrdom. To his right are the Carthusian priors and Blessed John Hailes, behind them is the Tyburn Tree; to his left is St Birgitta of Sweden who founded the Order. Also shown are Syon Abbey and The Tower of London. In a scroll above his head is a verse from Psalm 27 which Richard Reynolds quoted in his trial, Credo videre bona domini in terra viventium (I believe to see the good things of the Lord).
The College Motto
VIDETE BONA DOMINI – ‘See the good things of the Lord.’
The College motto is derived from one of the verses of Psalm 27 that Richard Reynolds quoted at his trial: Credo videre bona Domini in terra viventium (I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living). Our motto is based on that verse and it is presented in the imperative: Videte bona Domini (See the good things of the Lord). The Motto encourages us to look at the good things God has given us; to discover them across the curriculum in literature, science, art, beautiful music and so forth as well as finding the talents He has given to us and others. It has an eschatological dimension to it as well in that we finally behold God’s goodness in heaven.
The Monastery of St Saviour and St Bridget of Syon was founded in 1415 by King Henry V on the banks of the Thames at Twickenham, across the river from his other great foundation of the Sheen Charterhouse of Jesus of Bethlehem. The Order of the Holy Saviour, commonly called the Bridgettines after its founder, St Bridget of Sweden. Bridget was a great Swedish mystic, who founded Syon’s motherhouse, Vadstena, in 1377. The Bridgettines were a double Order, its houses comprising a larger number of Nuns, and a smaller number of Monks, known as Canons. First among the Canons was the Confessor-General, with the whole House presided over by the Lady Abbess. The Order spread quickly throughout Europe. King Henry’s foundation was originally for 60 Nuns (including the Abbess) and 25 Canons (the Confessor-General, 12 priests, 4 Deacons and 8 Lay Brothers). Syon Abbey soon became one of the Order’s most celebrated houses, enjoying an enviable reputation for the holiness and learning of its members. In a short time it had built up one of the finest renaissance libraries in the country.
Following the dissolution of the Monastery by Thomas Cromwell under Henry VIII, the community moved in exile to the Netherlands, and were one of the important houses to enjoy a brief return to their home under Queen Mary (1553-57). They were once again expelled in 1557, and attempted settlement in various places in France and Spain, before finally settling in Lisbon between 1594 and 1861, when they were able to return to England, finally settling at South Brent in Devon. Following the Dissolution of the Mother House of Vadstena in the Swedish Reformation, Syon Abbey became regarded as the Order’s senior House, and it was to Syon Abbey that Elisabeth Hesselblad wrote for permission to take private vows as a Bridgettine when she founded a revival of the Bridgettine Order in the early twentieth century. The suggested reconstruction of the Syon Abbey Church by Dr Jonathan Foyle (2004) shows how it might have appeared around 1530. It is based on archaeological excavations at Syon Park by The Time Team and Birkbeck University. It was a magnificent and imposing building estimated to measure about 37 metres wide by 145 metres long.