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Saint John Ogilvie

Saint John Ogilvie
  • Century: 16th & 17th Century
  • Patronage: -
  • Feast Day: March 10th

St. Ogilvie was the son of a wealthy man, and was born into a respected Calvinist family in Scotland.  He was educated in Europe where he attended a number of Roman Catholic educational institutions.  He studied under the Benedictines in Germany, and with the Jesuits at the University in present day Czech Republic.  There were a lot of religious controversies and turmoil in his day, and he decided to become a Roman Catholic.  At the age of seventeen he was received into the Catholic Church in Belgium.  He joined the Society of Jesus in 1608 and was ordained a Priest in Paris in 1610.  After his ordination he served in Normandy, sending treaties to Glasgow to minister to the Catholics there, since it had become illegal to preach or proselytize, or endorse Roman Catholicism.  

He tried to use his linage to aid him, but not having any success with that, he went to London, back to Paris, and finally returned to Scotland in 1613, disguised as a horse trader named John Watson.  Once there, he then began to preach in secret and celebrated Mass in private homes in secret.  

His ministry didn’t last a year; in 1614 he was betrayed and arrested in Glasgow.  He was taken to Paisley, where he suffered terrible tortures, including being kept awake for eight days and nine nights, in an attempt to make him divulge the identities of other Roman Catholics.  He did not relent, and was convicted of high treason for refusing to accept the King’s spirituality.  On March 10th, 1615 at the age of 36, he was paraded through the streets of Glasgow, hanged and disemboweled, according to the penalty of his time.  His last words were, “If there be here, any hidden Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of the heretics I will not have”.   He threw his concealed Rosary beads out into the crowd, and one of his enemies caught them.  It is said he became a lifelong Roman Catholic, inspired by catching the Rosary beads.  His followers were rounded up and suffered heavy fines, but none of them received the death penalty.  He was beatified in 1929, and in 1976 he was canonized.  

Practical Take Away

St. John Ogilvie was born into a wealthy family in Scotland.   He lived in the Reformation period, and was raised as a Calvinist.  He studied with the Jesuits and converted to Catholicism.  He became a Jesuit Priest and returned to Scotland with a false identity to minister to the Roman Catholics and celebrated Mass.  He was betrayed and captured, and convicted of high treason for not accepting the King’s spirituality.  He was dragged through the streets, hung and disemboweled.  He was a martyr of the Reformation and is the only post Reformation saint from Scotland.