10/3: Feast of St John Ogilvie – Are Martyrs an Embarrassment in the Modern “Ecumenical Church”?

John Ogilvie suffered terrible tortures, including being kept awake for eight days and nine nights, in an attempt to make him divulge the identities of other Catholics. Nonetheless, Ogilvie did not relent; consequently, after a biased trial, he was convicted of high treason for refusing to accept the King’s spiritual jurisdiction.

On 10th March 1615, aged 36 years, John Ogilvie was paraded through the streets of Glasgow and hanged at Glasgow Cross.

His last words were “If there be here any hidden Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have”. After he was pushed from the ladder, he threw his concealed rosary beads out into the crowd. The tale is told that one of his enemies caught them and subsequently became a lifelong devout Catholic. After his execution Ogilvie’s followers were rounded up and put in jail. They suffered heavy fines, but none was to receive the death penalty.

As a martyr of the Counter-Reformation he was beatified in 1929 and canonised in 1976. He is the only post-Reformation saint from Scotland. Source

Comment:

As we reflect on the life and martyrdom of St John Ogilvie in preparation for his Feast on 10 March, the question for discussion is in the headline: ARE martyrs an embarrassment given the commitment of the Catholic Church to playing down differences, pretending that Catholics and Protestants believe the same thing and generally being a very politically correct “Ecumenical Church”? Some Scots Catholics argue, for example, that there should be more public events organised by the hierarchy to mark the Feast of St John Ogilvie in the city (Glasgow) where he was put to death. Some ask if the public procession (known as “the Ogilvie Walk”) to the place of execution at Glasgow Cross, once peopled by parishioners from all over Glasgow (and beyond) be restored? If not, why not? Or is it the case that martyrs like St John Ogilvie really are, now, an embarrassment and even an obstacle to ecumenical goals?

39 responses

  1. I don’t know about being an embarrassment but they would certainly be considered fools and troublemakers n this day and age.

    • Frankier,

      That’s very true. If you suggest anyone should convert these days you’re made to feel like a troublemaker. It’s all so ridiculous. There’s no point to the Church at all, if people don’t need to convert to it.

  2. I completely disagree. Martyrdom is wonderfully ecumenical!

    Have you not heard of ‘ecumenism of blood’?

    Consider this:

    I knew a parish priest in Hamburg who was dealing with the beatification cause of a Catholic priest guillotined by the Nazis for teaching children the catechism. After him, in the list of condemned individuals, was a Lutheran pastor who was killed for the same reason. Their blood was mixed. The parish priest told me he had gone to the bishop and said to him: “I will continue to deal with the cause, but both of their causes, not just the Catholic priest’s.” This is what ecumenism of blood is. It still exists today; you just need to read the newspapers. Those who kill Christians don’t ask for your identity card to see which Church you were baptised in. We need to take these facts into consideration. — Pope Francis

    Saint John Ogilve’s problem was that he was far too sectarian.

    • “Saint John Ogilve’s problem was that he was far too sectarian.”

      That’s it.

      The quote from Pope Francis is horrifying. He is just too unbelievable for words. How are people supposed to convert to the Catholic Church if the Pope says rubbish like that?

      • Josephine,

        Well, I’m afraid you hit the nail on the head, dearest Josephine. When His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI created the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Jorge Bergoglio (as was), in his former capacity of Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires (don’t we wish he’d stayed there?) told Gregory Venables, the archlayman of the Diocese of the Southern Cone (sounds like an ice cream parlour dunnit?) ‘this is ridiculous…we need Anglicans as Anglicans, not as Catholics, to understand them’. Most recently, he has said ‘proselytism is solemn nonsense’ and that ‘we cannot consider Jews to be members of a foreign religion’.

        So, ask yourself the question again. He doesn’t want converts. The Pope’s pronouncements on God and who He is are thoroughly Masonic.

    • Miles, I had not heard of ‘ecumenism of blood’. Thanks for posting that comment.

      This pope does not miss a single opportunity to undermine and belittle the customs, and even beliefs of Catholics. He appears to be redefining Catholicism and not too many Catholics are worried about it.

      • Jobstears,

        Not many Catholics are worried about the Pope appearing to redefine Catholicism and belittling our beliefs and customs, because not too many Catholics still possess the Faith. As Pope John Paul II said, we’re in the midst of a silent apostasy – to which I would now add, “getting louder by the day”.

  3. Solemn Vespers – St Aloysius Church, Garnethill

    Solemn Vespers in honour of St John Ogilivie – celebrant Bishop Elect John Keenan on Monday, 10 March 2014 (the 399th anniversary of his martyrdom) at 7.00 pm in St Aloysius Church, Garnethill, Glasgow. Followed by tea and a “think tank” on how to mark the 400th anniversary of his martyrdom in one year’s time. All welcome.

    • Eileenanne,

      Assuming you plan to attend, will you report back to us exactly what the Bishop Elect says about the saint. I’ll be particularly interested to know whether or not he extols the virtues of St John Ogilvie for giving his life in defence of the Mass and Catholic religion, or if the homily is more along the lines (I’ve heard so often to explain away martyrs) that he is absolutely wonderful to have died “for what he believed in” or “for a cause dear to his heart” or similar.

      I’ll be especially interested if the new Bishop Elect quotes the saint’s prayer about seeking the prayers of any Catholics hidden in the crowd, but rejecting the prayers of heretics. That would give him the WOW factor (Bishop Elect, I mean – St John Ogilvie’s already won that award!)

      I hope you’ll keep us informed. Please and thank you.

      • Editor,
        I will probably go if I am able to rearrange another commitment, but I will not be going as your spy. I wonder what on earth made you think I would agree to go to Vespers with the express intention of picking holes in the celebrant’s remarks? I do hope I have never said anything here that would give you that impression. Anyone going with that attitude would be better to stay away.

        Will I see others from the blog there or does it clash with the SSPX congregation’s own event in honour of St John Ogilvie?

        • Eileenanne,

          Nobody mentioned being a spy. Nobody asked you to “spy”. Only the most uncharitable reader would put that spin on what I said. And it’s rich for you to talk about not “picking holes” in the celebrant’s homily – that is EXACTLY what you do here all the time. You seldom, if ever, offer a meaningful contribution and not so long ago had the sheer audacity to say that you come on here in case new readers get a wrong impression of the Church. That is, you are spying on us with a view to correcting our errors. Laughable. YOU who defend each and every novelty that’s been introduced, who seem to know very little of the traditional Catholic religion, have the sheer audacity to “keep an eye” on us, to “protect” newcomers from our – what? False religion?

          Gerragrip.

          • Editor,

            Why did you respond to the information I posted as you did, instead of applauding the fact that there is at least one public event to mark St John Ogilvie’s feast and encouraging your readers to attend, even if only to get in their tuppenceworth about an appropriate celebration of next year’s 400th anniversary of his martyrdom? If what happens next year is not to your taste, you will have no grounds for complaint.

            Going to a religious service with the pre-conceived notion that the celebrant will be less forceful than YOU think he should be in talking about St John Ogilvie, and with the intention of going on to publicise his perceived inadequacy, is more foreign to the practice of Catholicism than any of the “novelties” which you roundly condemn.

            • Eileenanne,

              If I wanted anyone to attend the event to report back I could ask one of our willing researchers – I merely mentioned, in good faith, that if you are going anyway it would be interesting to hear if the usual ecumenical rubbish is spouted. I did not (and never would) ask you to go along to represent Catholic Truth.

              And I certainly did not ask you to go along with a pre-conceived notion – you are putting words into my mouth. Had you returned here to give a glowing report of the event, we would – all of us – have been delighted. Only the most uncharitable person would think otherwise. Through the years, you have jumped pronto to defend every heretical idiot under the sun, while jumping even more pronto to attack us at the slightest opportunity.

              Eileenanne, I really don’t think you have anything to gain by visiting here. You have a very low opinion of us and – frankly – I, for one, do not find your persistent hostility at all helpful in our humble apostolate.

              You’ve been reading this blog long enough to know what we are about. You do not want to know the truth, that is clear, let alone act upon it. Notably you were absent from the Archbishop Lefebvre thread and the more recent “What can we do to signal to our bishops etc.” thread. You obviously could not answer the facts published on those threads (or anywhere else on this blog) about the state of the Church but instead of acknowledging the truth, you prefer to stick with the diabolical disorientation, defend its perpetrators and savage us instead.

              We clearly have nothing to offer you and – take it as read – you have nothing to offer us. Please feel free to continue to read this blog if you wish, but I would ask you to desist from commenting unless you wish to make a meaningful contribution to our discussions.

              PS – the day I encourage our readers to attend St Aloysius, EXCEPT perhaps to a meeting as we’ve done in the past, in order to – if possible – exercise their prophetic vocation to speak out to correct errors – will be the day after Hell freezes over.

              • I am absolutely sure I have never defended heresy.

                I have never “savaged” you or anyone else.

                I have no adverse or low opinion of you – I disagree with some of what you say.

                It would be presumptuous of me to join in any discussioin about Archbishop Lefebvre, I only join in discussions that interest me and about which I have something to say.

                I don’t know if Fr Keenan will quote St John Ogilvie’s prayer, but it is quoted on the Archdiocese of Glasgow website.

                I usually avoid frivolous and unnecessary use of the Internet during Lent. Yesterday my hand went automatically to this site when I wasn’t thinking, so I came back today to follow up on the discussion.

                Back now to my Lenten observance. See you at Easter.

                • Eileenanne,

                  I’m going to ignore most of your post which would take us back over old ground and round in circles.

                  I’m going to say only two things: firstly, the very fact that you have nothing to say about Archbishop Lefebvre (indisputably the prelate prophesied by Our Lady at Quito sent by her Son to restore the priesthood) speaks for itself. Not to be interested in Archbishop Lefebvre’s words, when anyone with half a brain now realises that the battle in the Church right now is between Modernism and the SSPX – with God on the side of the SSPX – says it all.

                  As for “frivolous use of the internet during Lent” – we NEVER use the internet frivolously. We are using the internet to defend and promote our beloved Catholic Faith. We always close down for Holy Week to permit time for reflection and prayer as we ponder Our Lord’s suffering and death in that week, but the work of learning about and defending our Faith is never “frivolous” .

                  Indeed, some, if not all, of our bloggers are in a perennial “Lenten observance” in the sense that they donate their time generously to the work of Catholic education through this blog. Those known to me personally (and I’m sure this is true of all) are among the busiest people I know, people with demanding jobs and lots of home and social commitments. They’re the movers and shakers in the Church today, not content to keep their heads down until the crisis passes let alone to go along to get along. They are, in a word, real Catholics, not the counterfeit kind written about so eloquently by Christopher Ferrara in his book The Great Façade which I strongly recommend you read. Like yesterday.

    • Isn’t this the same parish that hosted the Boston heretic Thomas Groome a few years ago? Or intended to host, but his flight was cancelled…or am I having a senile moment?

      • Great Pretender,

        No senile moment. You are absolutely correct. The original invitation to Groome to speak in St Aloysius was postponed due to the volcanic ash which meant flights were cancelled but he did come, eventually, and guess who was there in the front row, without her winning smile, due to the “pre-conceived notion” that – having perused his heretical writings – he would undermine and openly attack Catholic teachings? And boy, did he just.

        A small group of us attended his appalling talk in St Aloysius and observed, painfully, as row after row of Catholics (of an age to know better) laughed and participated in his mockery of the Church, which, of course, in true Modernist mentality, had been getting it wrong until the Holy Spirit arrived in 1962 to sort it all out.

        But don’t get me wrong, Great Pretender. All the priests who attended were priests “in good standing” (with the local Bishop – not, manifestly not, with God, but hey, who cares about that?)

        We reported the whole debacle in our newsletter.

        I’m impressed that you remembered the name of the parish and the event. WOW ❗

  4. In the modern, “ecumenical” Church, there is not only no martyrdom, but there appears to be a visceral dread of martyrdom: the fear of being ridiculed by public opinion, for the crime of going against that public opinion. This is only natural, I suppose, since the modern Church rests upon human respect, not fear of Heaven, and esp. not love of Heaven. Perhaps, in the lingo of the “climate change” Nazi wackos, we could call it “fear of being a public-opinion-denier.” Reputation-martyrdom.

    So to avoid this martyrdom, we have a Church that abandons her beliefs, her teaching and her mission – i.e., the Faith – in order to “fit in” with the madness of the world. But of course, the spineless weasels, spiritual criminals and perverts who currently occupy many (if not most) clerical posts can’t put it that way, so they call it “reform.”

    • Great Pretender,

      “we have a Church that abandons her beliefs, her teaching and her mission – i.e., the Faith – in order to “fit in” with the madness of the world…..(and) call it reform”. Brilliant, succinct and, I couldn’t agree more!

  5. I don’t think they are an embarrassment, as far as I know, the cofe celebrates the lives of the forty martyrs, as does the US Episcopal Church, or are we talking from a Catholic perspective?

    I have read that Cardinal Heenan was initially reluctant over the canonisation of the forty martyrs due to the ecumaniac ‘ramifications’, but came to support them in 1970.

    • Catholic Convert,

      Only Catholics can be true martyrs. I’m surprised the CofE celebrates the forty martyrs, who were all put to death defending the Catholic faith.

      I am not surprised at what you write about Cardinal Heenan as I think the martyrs are an embarrassment now as they spoil the idea that we all believe the same thing.

      • MM,

        If I remember correctly from perusing some CofE websites over there across the pond, the Church of England actually considers itself, cheekily enough, to be a continuation of the ancient Church. Catholic Church, that is. In these disoriented days, I’m sure there are plenty of RC clergy who agree with them!

        • The Scottish Episcopal Church claims not only to be the continuation of the pre reformation Catholic Church in Scotland but also the Original Church of Scotland. Now as the Church of Scotland was founded by John Knox and is Presbyterian there is no way it can make that claim. As for being the continuation of the Catholic Church, they claim the Church just continued through them to the present day and that the Catholic Church in Scotland is foreign import. This is rubbish as the Faith never died out here and many areas, mainly in the Highlands and Islands, were never touched by the reformation. Areas like Blessed Morar “where the voice of the minister has never been heard.” These areas were served by the marvellous heather priests who travelled the country ministering to the faithful and the debt we owe to these great men can never be calculated.

  6. On the battlefields of Scotland in the hour of victory,
    There was heard the cry of heroes, “Ogilvie, an Ogilvie.”
    Gallant son of gallant fathers, it was thine as theirs to fight,
    But with gates of hell contending, thou didst die for truth and right.
    Blessed martyr, thy example will our strength in weakness be,
    Hear our cry in times of peril: ‘Ogilvie an Ogilvie.’

    By the scaffold all undaunted, strong in grace we see thee still,
    Looking up, serene and smiling, with a firm, unconquered will.
    It is thy bright hour of triumph, like Our Lord on Calvary’s cross,
    Victory is thine in dying, endless gain in seeming loss.
    Blessed martyr, thy example will our strength in weakness be,
    Hear our cry in times of peril: ‘Ogilvie an Ogilvie.’

    Blessed Martyr, hear thy children, be our guide and show the way.
    Make us strong and keep us steadfast in the warfare of today.
    Looking down from heights of glory, see in us thy kith and kin.
    Teach us thy strong trust in Jesus, that we too may victory win.
    Blessed martyr, thy example will our strength in weakness be,
    Hear our cry in times of peril: ‘Ogilvie an Ogilvie.’

  7. At the Mass I attended today, the priest spoke at length about St John Ogilvie, about his devotion to the Catholic faith at a time of proscription and great danger. He gave information on the saint’s imprisonment and his terrible death. He spoke of his rosary beads being thrown into the crowd, and the subsequent conversion to Catholicism of the person who caught them.
    He did not say anything about which people St John asked to pray for him, but that was about all that was missed out.
    Maybe the priest (whom I do not know ) is one of these holy priests who celebrate the Novus Ordo Masses!!!!!!!!!

    • Spero,

      What he missed out is telling. That’s the major anti-ecumenical bit!

      Still, good that he said as much as he did. Credit where it is due. He gave an accurate synopsis, albeit with an important omission, of the life of Scotland’s only martyr in a Scottish parish church to a Scottish congregation at a weekday Mass.

      And, sadly, it’s more than many would expect these days, but I’m sure I speak for us all when I say that we are very pleased that you have shared this little bit of good news with us on this great Feast.

      Happy Feast day, one and all !

      PS, the first person who ever told me about St John Ogilvie, was my old Irish grandfather, who died on his Feast day, 10 March. Perhaps I could ask everyone to remember a wee prayer for the repose of the soul of my grandfather (Joseph) who had a great love and admiration for John Ogilvie, and through the story of his life, imparted to me, certainly, a love of the priesthood. RIP

  8. A very old priest, now dead, gave me a book “A Scottish Knight Errant” which is of course about St John Ogilvie, and written by Forbes and Cahill.
    The foreword, by a certain Henry Graham ends like this:
    May the prayers of the venerable servant of God avail, in sweet revenge,to obtain for his countrymen the knowledge of the truth and a share of his courage to embrace the Faith for which he died.
    “Sweet revenge”…..,…..definitely not PC but understandable. I hope his prayers will yet be answered.

  9. I would think Catholic martyrs would be stumbling blocks for the ecumenical movement. I don’t see how one can venerate a martyr (which implies at least acknowledging that they suffered and were put to death unjustly) and at the same time honestly believe that the god the murderers worship is the same one the martyr worshipped.

    St. Ogilvie in refusing the prayer of heretics, is I believe a timeless reminder that there are real differences between the Faith for which he willingly gave his life and every other faith. It used to be that Catholics did not ask non Catholics for prayers, but that’s not true anymore. After all, we all pray to the same God so what harm could there be?

  10. Editor
    I should have said I will certainly say a prayer for your grandfather along with my old friend, a priest now dead, who also had a great love for St John Ogilvie.

  11. Thank you, Spero and Jobstears. I appreciate your prayers for my grandfather, very much.

    I’ve had an email from a reader who attended the Vespers in St Aloysius last night. He writes:

    I [attended] the John Ogilvie Vespers last night. I was reasonably impressed with Fr (Bishop-elect) Keenan, it was my first experience of him. He was the guest of honour, in lieu of ++Tartaglia. He chanted (albeit in English) everything he had to do during the liturgy.

    In his homily, he made it quite clear that Ogilvie was a Catholic martyr, as opposed to a “Christian” interpretation.

    Fr Keenan also spoke of how Ogilvie loved Scotland and how he knew Scotland can never fully be Scotland, without the Catholic faith. Fr Keenan described post-reformation Scotland as a land “suffering under misinterpretations of the Gospel”.

    He also spoke of the tortures Ogilvie endured and described his last moments on the scaffold, including the story about him throwing his rosary beads into the crowd (though he left out the defiant comments about heretics!). He said that the act of throwing the beads seemed a futile gesture, but in fact this represented Ogilvie evangelising to the end. END.

  12. Martyrs would probably be a huge block for ecumenism. How can we accept them when they refused to pray with Protestants?
    When a Protestant minister tried to pray with St. Edmund Campion before he was executed he told him: “Sir, you and I are not one in religion, wherefore I pray you content yourself. I bar none of prayer; but I only desire them that are of the household of the Faith to pray with me, and in my agony to say one creed.”
    When a Protestant tried to pray with Mary, Queen of Scots before her execution, she refused and turned to pray alone.
    And then there were the people who were killed or imprisoned because they wouldn’t let themselves be seen in an Anglican church in public.

    • Chopin (I hope you don’t mind if I shorten your name a little!)

      Well said! These days it is an outrage to suggest that we shouldn’t pray with anyone, no matter their beliefs about God. I’ve been driving this evening, listening to some of Any Questions on Radio 4, where they had the alleged Catholic Helena Kennedy (of “we ought to ordain women” infamy) and she was just oozing political correctness about our tolerant Scotland where just about anything – and any belief – goes.

      So, I’m glad you know your stuff Chopin – what a star!

  13. There is nothing so very embarrassing to the modern church in the distant past. One can quite fairly argue about 10/3 being 28/2 but the modern (Common Worship) calendar of the English Church takes an ecumenical view – when the (junior) bishop of Rome can have an amicable meeting with the Supreme Governor, no other view is sensible. If the ends of the earth are committed to Christ, then the calendar of any particular or national church ought to take a wide view, so Common Worship commemorates men and women from all different places and periods of the Church’s history. Given our disunity since the eleventh century, that means Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants get to be included as well as Anglicans.

    So, along with Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley, More and Fisher are, equally, Reformation Martyrs and duly commemorated. The less eminent are commemorated, together, for their historic witness to Christ, as “The English Saints and Martyrs of the Reformation Era”. The Roman-Catholic church has recently approved Thomas Cranmer’s English translations of the Sarum Rite for Walsingham’s use, so the old tribal enmities are being buried on both sides. Our Governor’s recent encounter with Bishop Francis was very different from her somewhat strained meeting with Pius XII.

    So, nothing in the least absurd or embarrassing. It is worth remembering them all – had John Fisher felt able to be more than Princess Catherine’s partisan and Thomas Cranmer King Henry’s advocate, they might have discovered together (what we now know to be the case) namely that Catherine and Henry had never (in terms of canon law) actually been married. The commemorations are a reminder that with a bit of timely cooperation between my lords of Rochester and Canterbury all sorts of historical bother might have been avoided – vt vnum sint.

    In the view of the Scottish Church, Ogilvie was lawfully executed for his manifest treasons on 28 February, 1614. In the contemporaneous view of a foreign church and a foreign religious order, Ogilbie died a martyr to the jurisdictional pretensions of the bishops of Rome on 12 March, 1615. Both points of view are tenable and, in this day and age, both are worth commemorating. As the traditional Scottish Sarum rite puts it, memento etiam ….

    • Dr John Dowden,

      With respect, nobody can be a martyr unless they are first and foremost a Catholic who dies in defence of the Catholic religion. On your list, only St Thomas More, St John Fisher and St John Ogilvie are martyrs.

      You seem to be a very ecumenical person so I won’t say much more – there is only one Church, founded by Our Lord, and all the others are schismatics. I do not mean to offend you but you are saying things that are simply not true, giving the impression that the Catholic Church is no more important than the Orthodox, or Anglicans. That is just not the case. Those other churches are in schism from the true Church.

      • Margaret Mary,

        Thank you for your remarks. There would be no offence taken – one does not go a-blogging without having a reasonably thick skin, but thank you for being considerate.

        The one thing which has never been clear, having blogged here occasionally over the years, is whether these confident statements represent the official position taken by the Roman-Catholic Church or whether they are simply the teachings of Lefebrist bishops, consecrated in what is, apparently, a schismatic act. So far as one knows, the Roman-Catholic authorities have just approved some of Dr Cranmer’s texts (including some of the absolutely best bits of liturgical English – and English music) for use. That, and the recent meeting with the Queen, rather suggests to me that the Roman-Catholic Church is moving on (even if the Lefebrists cannot keep up at the back).

        Either way, there is no reason why the rest of us ought not to think about John Ogilvie’s witness, even if 28 February seems a more appropriate date for Scots.

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