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The Rising Burgh: 1560 to 1770s


Saint John Ogilvie

By Archbishop Conti

Saint John Ogilvie Few figures in Scottish history have had such a varied life as John Ogilvie (1579-1615). Born into a respected Calvinist family in Keith, Banffshire, he died a Jesuit priest at Glasgow Cross and is today Scotland's only acknowledged post-reformation Catholic saint. John Ogilvie was educated in mainland Europe. Exposed to the religious controversies of his day and impressed with the faith of the martyrs, he decided to become a Catholic. In 1596, aged seventeen, he was received into the Church at Louvain, Belgium.

He attended a variety of Catholic educational institutions, including the Benedictine College at Ratisbon (Regensburg) in Germany, and Jesuit houses at Olmutz (Olomouc) and Brunn (Brno) in what is now the Czech Republic. He was ordained a Jesuit priest at Paris in 1610 and repeatedly asked to be sent to Scotland. He eventually arrived in November 1613 and ministered clandestinely in the central belt to the few remaining Catholics. His missionary career however lasted less than a year. One posing as a Catholic betrayed him. After his arrest he was tortured in prison in an effort to get him to reveal the names of other Catholics, but he refused. Eventually, Father John Ogilvie was convicted of high treason for denying the king's spiritual jurisdiction by upholding the Pope's spiritual primacy. He was hanged at Glasgow in 1615 aged thirty-six.

He was canonised in 1976 by Pope Paul VI following the inexplicable – later declared miraculous - cure of John Fagan, a working man from Easterhouse in Glasgow devoted to the then-Blessed John Ogilvie whose advanced cancer vanished after prayer to him.

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