Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Penny Renold: Obituary

Penelope Renold, 5th May 1916-25th June 2006

Miss Penelope Renold, one of Oxford’s most redoubtable Traditionalists, a dependable presence in our Masses, tremendously active throughout her long life for the cause of the Traditional Mass, died unexpectedly at home on the 25th June. She was the daughter of Sir Charles and Lady (Margaret) Renold. Her brothers Hans, Peter and Timothy, predeceased her.

Penny was received into the Church in 1936, having come into contact with Catholicism while at school in France. After touring Central Europe by Harley Davidson motorcycle, when the War came she served in the WAAF. After the War she completed a History degree at UCL, and began to write books for the Catholic Records Society.

Like many Catholics, Penny found the liturgical changes following the Council a shattering experience. At a thinly attended meeting in the House of Commons, called by Catholic laity concerned by the situation, she was inspired by Michael Davies to become involved in the infant movement for the preservation of the Traditional liturgy. She was active in helping priests, preserving discarded books, vestments and sacred vessels, and establishing the St Pius V Information Centre, an apostolate she sold in 1978 to what is now the St Paul’s Bookshop in London. As well as devoting her time and energy to this work, she was extraordinarily generous with her money, to a self-sacrificing extent, and her gifts continue to benefit Traditional Catholics all over the country.

Since moving to Oxford in 1981, Penny continued to work tirelessly for the Traditional Mass, most recently lending her collection of vestments and church silver for Fr Andrew Southwell’s Oxford Masses, where she was in charge of setting up and putting away the necessary things in our various Mass venues.

Not one of nature’s optimists, Penny responded to the tremendous challenges faced by all of her generation with the more practical characteristics of unshakable fidelity to the Church’s Tradition, unlimited energy and organisational ability, and iron determination. She inspired great affection among the Oxford Traditional community, and it was providential that her splendid 90th Birthday celebration brought many members of her extended family together with her Oxford friends, only a few weeks before her death. Her birthday fell on the feast of St Pius V, which was marked this year by May’s First Friday Mass, sung by Fr John Saward in Penny’s own parish church, SS Gregory and Augustine. It would have given her some satisfaction to have avoided the embarrassment of the short piece of appreciation which had been planned for the August issue of Mass of Ages. She will be greatly missed. May she rest in peace.

P.S. There is an interesting article on Penny's remarkable grandfather, Hans Renold, here.

Prayer Cards for Penny are available from me on request: send your postal address to

See also the report of her funeral, here.

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