Yes/No…Should Glasgow Build Statue of Scotland’s Only Martyr – St John Ogilvie?

A statue for Scotland’s only Catholic Martyr?

A CAMPAIGN is growing for a memorial to St John Ogilvie, Scotland’s only Catholic martyr, to be built on the spot of his execution at Glasgow Cross.

An online campaign launched on his feast day last week has found huge support, with the Knights of St Columba saying they’d be delighted to take the project forward by raising funds for a marker for the saint.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow used his homily at the St John Ogilvie feast day Mass in St Andrew’s Cathedral, a few hundreds yards away from Glasgow Cross, to call on Scotland to make more of its saints, and a campaign by a Scottish Catholic media group for a memorial has received huge support online.

“John Ogilvie was a Scot from Banffshire,” Archbishop Tartaglia said. “He was a Jesuit priest. He died here in our city. He is an honorary Glaswegian. He belongs to Glasgow. And above all, his blood was shed for Christ here in Glasgow. I just wish we knew where he was buried, but we don’t.

“We know he was executed at Glasgow Cross (right). We have the national shrine at St Aloysius’, where we celebrated ecumenical vespers in honour of St John Ogilvie yesterday evening, and we have the renowned painting of our martyr which is displayed in this Cathedral. These tangible things help us to claim St John Ogilvie as our saint, to love him and to keep his memory alive.”

 Religious freedom

The Archbishop also said that the saint’s memory was particularly important at a time when Catholics faced ‘more subtle forms of restricting religious freedom.’

“It gets into the realm of limiting your freedom to say in public places what you believe and what you hold most dear in your heart and in your conscience, and that trend, let’s call it, is recognisable even in developed liberal democracies like ours,” he said.

“Christians and Catholics all over the western world are wakening up to this now and it is a difficult prospect for us because the goalposts of civic respectability appear suddenly to have been moved. I think this may be our next big challenge. That’s one reason why we continue to need the example, inspiration and intercession of St John Ogilvie.”

John Patrick Mallon leads Sancta Familia Media, a group out of Holy Family parish in Motherwell Diocese which make Faith-based online videos. He was inspired to call for a memorial when filming a short film about the saint at Glasgow Cross.

“I was just really surprised there was nothing there to mark it, not even a plaque,” he said. “And I thought, ‘this is terrible.’ So we put up a campaign on social media and it had an amazing response, hundreds of people liking and sharing it.”

 Support

Charlie McCluskey, supreme knight of the Knights of St Columba, said the order had first started to consider a permanent memorial to St John Ogilvie at Glasgow Cross on the saint’s 400th anniversary in 2015, but the time was now right.

“There should be a something,” he said. “He’s the only Scottish martyr and there’s not even a plaque. Whether you are Catholic, Protestant, whatever, this was an historic event in the history of the city that should be marked.”

Mr McCluskey suggested an alcove on the Mercat Building, which is owned by Glasgow City Council and overlooks the Cross, would be an ideal place for a statue of the saint. “We have made tentative enquires to the council,” Mr McCluskey said. “There didn’t seem to be major objections. We need to move onto the next stage now, but if there’s public support we’d be happy to take a lead on this.”  Source

Comments invited…

10 March: Feast of St John Ogilvie…

A LETTER FROM FR JOHN OGILVIE SJ

On 9 March 2015 an ecumenical vespers was held at St Aloysius church in Glasgow, on the eve of the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie SJ.

Fr Dermot Preston gave the homily, that you can listen to [here]… in which he read this letter: [extracts follow – click here to read the entire letter] 

St John OgilvieDear Fr Preston,

My name is Fr John Ogilvie. I understand that you will be preaching this evening as part of the celebrations of my 400 years. I’m sorry not to be there – well, I’m not actually… I’m in a far better place. And the weather is much better.

I hear that you are the Provincial of the British Jesuits. As a Scot in those days, having left Leith, I found myself entering the Jesuits in what you would now called the Czech Republic – ‘Bohemia’, as it then was. I came to London just once, but it was only a short visit. There was great persecution in England in those days and, as I was being trained, I met many brave English and Welsh Jesuit priests and brothers on the continent awaiting their mission. Impressive men; but like me, many of them didn’t live to old age.

As I look back I have been reflecting and, for what it is worth, I offer you a few thoughts for your homily tonight.

Firstly I am delighted that so many people and ministers of so many Christian denominations can come together for such an occasion. At the end of my trial, after I had been condemned to death, I made a point of going to shake the hands of all the judges: this was not some stunt – I sincerely meant it. Certainly some annoyed me greatly by their petty mindedness, and some were so caught-up in their own issues they couldn’t see beyond the skin of their own noses, but despite our formidable differences, I quite liked a lot of them and held them all as beloved children of the living God. It fills my heart with great joy that companionship is possible in your day…

Secondly, I would hope that in your homily you do not dwell on the past and please do not focus on me. I have a name and you know some things about me and my life – perhaps not as much as you think, as actually not one of you is certain of the year in which I was born! – but through the 2000 years of the history of the Church, I am just a single raindrop in a Glaswegian thunderstorm. Thousands, perhaps millions of human beings have died violently in Christ’s name over two millennia. Many of these people have never been named; for some, their story of martyrdom is forgotten by history and known only to the heart of God. They are the heroes of the Church.

In your own time there has been an unprecedented upsurge of persecution of Christians across the world. According to one secular Human Rights group based in  Germany, 80% of all acts of religious discrimination in your world today are directed at Christians. Statistically speaking, that makes Christians by far the most persecuted religious body on the planet.

Notice I don’t say ‘Catholics’ because now the struggle has changed: if truth be told, the complex discussions about the differences in Christian theology which brought about my death are a luxury which is irrelevant for many people of your day. Look around you, Father Provincial: in Africa, in Asia, the Middle East, parts of Europe and central America, just to stand in the Shadow of the Cross automatically marks you out for torture and death. Faith and belief are distilled to the very basics; Presbyterians, Methodists, Salvation Army Pentecostalists, Baptists, Anglicans, Orthodox and others stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Catholics in announcing their faith not with any complex declaration of creed, but merely by indicating that Christ, the Son of God came down upon this earth for the salvation of humankind, and they have styled their life on that belief. It is important to emphasise what unites Christians rather than focussing on what divides.

Finally, perhaps it would be important to tell the people tonight about what it means to be a martyr. This is especially true when the word itself might be used to describe a man or woman who wraps himself or herself in explosives and devastates a Church or a Synagogue or a Mosque. A Christian can never be someone who brings destruction on others in the name of Christ. A Christian martyr is someone who acts as a witness – a person who gives up their life, that others might live…

There is so much fear and uncertainty and greed in people’s daily lives that it is so tempting to lash out at other people – to inflict fear on others, to use physical violence or the deadly weapon of a gossipy tongue to drag them down. It can give a moment of pleasure, but ultimately it is a futile action. The cycle of vendetta and recrimination which you can see spiralling-down through families and nations through the centuries, draws the life-blood from all that is human.

In my own small way, I tried to do as Jesus did. I did not trade insult for insult. Instead I looked at Jesus before his persecutors and took him as my example; he absorbed their hatred, he absorbed their anger, he absorbed their misunderstanding and somehow – shockingly – he stopped it dead in its tracks.

Every act of human kindness, every fragment of LOVE contributes to this redemption of the world, whether it is a hand of friendship or a bitten-tongue holding back an insult. No act of witness goes to waste.

So, work for the time when people might come to you and ask you to show them a martyr, a faithful witness to the faith; work for that time when you no longer need to point to my painting or shrine – but you can point to yourself and the congregation that surrounds you.

Your devoted Jesuit Brother in Christ,

John
Firstborn son of Walter Ogilvie of Drum-na-Keith. 

Comment:

A Happy Feast Day to one and all! 

But, hang on…That’s not REMOTELY the letter that St John Ogilvie would be writing, were he to communicate with us today.   He would begin, no question about it, by lamenting the fact that the Mass for which he had sacrificed his life’s blood was no longer in “ordinary” use, but dubbed “extraordinary”, with those who love it, as he had loved it, treated like village idiots, even at the highest level in the Church.  That’s one topic which St John Ogilvie would certainly include in his letter today – can you think of any others?

As well as spending some time discussing “that letter”, however, we are also invited to  post our favourite prayers, poems and hymns  in honour of the Saint, and –  in the interest of enjoying some Good Clean Fun – we may post jokes and comical stories, as well. Just go easy on the mean Scots jokes… Athanasius tends to take those personally.  He once wrote a letter to an English newspaper where he said:  “If you print any more jokes about mean Scotsmen I shall stop borrowing your paper.” And he took to the streets a few weeks ago there, with an empty glass in each hand when the weather forecaster said there would be a nip in the air…

Happy Feast of  St John Ogilvie! 

St John Ogilvie & “Religious Freedom”…

A special papal envoy is in Glasgow to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of St John Ogilvie.  St John Ogilvie

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor will attend a Mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral later to mark the saint’s feast day.

The former Archbishop of Westminster will represent Pope Francis who was unable to accept an invitation from Glasgow’s Archbishop, Philip Tartaglia.

Jesuit priest John Ogilvie was hanged at Glasgow Cross for high treason for converting Protestants to Catholicism.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia will deliver a homily

The Mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral will be held at 19:30.

In his homily, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia will highlight attacks on religious freedom, which he will claim, is “fragile, not always recognised, not always respected, in some places denied”.

Archbishop Tartaglia will also commend ecumenical engagement in Scotland.

Born in 1579, John Ogilvie was raised as a Calvinist and was received into the Catholic faith aged 17 in 1596.

He was ordained a Jesuit priest in Paris in 1610 and returned to Scotland, which was largely Protestant following the Reformation and break with the Papacy in 1560.

While in Scotland, Ogilvie was arrested and following torture and trial, was convicted of high treason.

He had been denying the king’s spiritual jurisdiction by upholding the Pope’s spiritual primacy as well as conducting Mass in secret.

He was hanged at Glasgow Cross on 10 March 1615, aged 36.   Source

Comment:

It is a lie to say that St John Ogilvie, Scotland’s only canonised martyr, gave his life in the cause of “religious freedom”.  Far from it. Asked why he had returned to Scotland, the saint replied:  “to unteach heresy and to save souls”.   The concept of “religious freedom” as it is being understood today, is a heresy.  Comments invited. Oh and Happy Feast Day!

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?