March 10 – Saint John Ogilvie

The Jesuit Institute - St John Ogilvie SJ

They always say, that God sends precisely the saint that is needed for the particular period in time. Well, John Ogilvie is exactly one of those saints. Not only for the time in which he was born, but also for today...especially for today. He is a man’s man…With traits that were once considered the epitome of masculinity. He was brave, loyal, steadfast and strong. Willing to lay down his life for his sacred bride…The Church. He was tortured and beaten and still he remained firm. I know, the grace of the Lord was pouring over him like never before …but still…

It just so happens, that lately, I’ve pretty much had my fill of men who prance around with mannerisms that are more feminine than most women I know,  completely void of the manly nature that God intended them to have. We are living in a culture that has become over saturated with the lies of the evil one. We tell ourselves that we are being sensitive…that we are raising our children with an open mind...Well, that’s pure malarkey! Our children are gained no favors when they are lied to…especially when it’s the parents who foster the lies...”But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea,” (Matthew 18:6 ) We have a responsibility as parents to seek out the truth and raise our children in Truth!  Remember, the world doesn’t care about your child’s soul...We should  thank God for men like Saint John Ogilvie, and share his story with our young boys and men today, so that he can serve as a role model of Christian strength and fortitude in today’s ‘over feminized’ culture of lies.

John Ogilvie was born in the year 1579 to a wealthy family in Scotland. The roots of this noble family ran deep, and it is recorded that his family ties stretched all the way back to William, King of Scotland and Queen Margaret, who herself was later made a saint. Though his family had at one time been staunch Catholics, by the time John was born, Scotland had fallen under the spell of Calvinism and he was raised as a Calvinist.

When he was thirteen his father secured a travel permit for him and sent him to Europe to study, hoping that his first born son would gain an education that would propel him to the top of Scottish affairs. But John learned other things.He was exposed to the Truth of the Catholic Church, and when compared to the Calvinism he was raised with, he could not deny the Truth and at seventeen he converted to Catholicism.  When he was twenty he entered the Society of Jesus and then feeling called to the priesthood he studied and went to Paris where he was ordained as a Jesuit in 1610.

The newly ordained Father Ogilvie was assigned to be confessor for the students at Rouen college. It was here that he met priests who had been exiled from Scotland for saying Mass, or just for ministering to the people. It was then that he realized the heavy burden the Catholics in his native land had to bear, and he began to long to return home. He sought permission form his superiors several times. He was refused twice, but seeing his firm resolve, he was finally permitted to return to Scotland. It was a dangerous journey. He was accompanied by a fellow Jesuit Father, James Moffat and Friar John Campbell. Father Ogilvie traveled under the assumed name of John Watson.

As John Watson, Father Ogilvie was able to travel throughout Scotland unrecognized and was able to do much work. Writing back to the General of the Jesuits, he once said that the harvest here is very great but the laborers are few, as many of the priests were being held in chains and unable to work. Father Ogilvie enjoyed  being able to freely move about the country, but unbeknownst to him, a spy was sent, and a trap was laid for Father Ogilvie. In October of 1614, Father John Ogilvie was arrested and imprisoned in the Archbishop’s Palace. He appeared before the court of Glasgow, which was just the beginning  of his nightmarish ordeal.

The first five months of his imprisonment consisted of all forms of torture. He was subjected to starvation, sleep deprivation, beatings and torture. Through it all he remained in good spirits and faced it all with courage. And like the true man of God that he was, he even continued to debate the guards over religious matters, always trying to convert them to Catholicism.

The torture continued, all the while the King was trying to get Saint John to divulge the names of the Catholics he had been ministering. He was tortured days on end, and through it all…the fingernails being ripped out, the flogging…the beatings…he never once revealed a name to his aggressors.

When he was sentenced to death, he made it clear that he was loyal to the King in civil matters but that he could not obey him in spiritual matters. He told the judges : “In all that concerns the king, I will be slavishly obedient; if any attack his temporal power, I will shed my last drop of blood for him. But in the things of spiritual jurisdiction which a king unjustly seizes I cannot and must not obey.” He stated that he would be willing to die a hundred times for God. He wanted to make it perfectly clear to all, that his death was due to his unwavering support of the Catholic Church.

... St John Ogilvie (1933) in the Jesuit Church of St Aloysius, Glasgow

There is a story that as he was being led to the gallows, he threw out a handful of rosaries to the gathered crowd. It claims that anyone who caught one of the rosaries converted to Catholicism shortly after his death. During his hanging, he did not die, and the hangman had to go beneath him and pull him by the legs to break his neck and end his agony.

He was canonized a saint in 1976 after the miraculous healing of a man who was suffering from terminal stomach cancer. He is Scotland’s first Martyr due to the Reformation and the first saint of Scotland in over 700 years. Truly a man for all times…a saint for all centuries.

Prayer For Saint John Ogilvie

Almighty and eternal God,
you gave to St John Ogilvie
wisdom in defending the Catholic faith
and courage in facing a martyr’s death:
listen to our prayers,
and send us an ever greater harvest
of faith, hope and love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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