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Saint John Ogilvie

Today’s Saint of the day is John Ogilvie

Saint John was born 1579 in Scotland, just twelve years after the forced abdication of Scotland’s last Catholic monarch, and only eight years before her murder.

He was raised in Scotland as a Calvinist and was sent to continental Europe to further his education at the age of twelve. It was in Europe that he was first exposed to Catholicism and was fascinated by the debates between Catholics and Calvinists that were taking place in France at the time.

While in college, John converted to Catholicism at the age of seventeen, and was received into the Church in Belgium. He was later ordained a priest in 1610.

After meeting a couple of Jesuit missionaries that had just returned from his native Scotland, and hearing their tales of imprisonment and torture, at the hands of the King’s men, John begged his superiors to send him to minister to the hidden Catholics of his home country (Catholicism was a capital crime at this time).

Saint John returned to Scotland disguised as horse trader. He initially had no success as a missionary, and returned to France dejected. He was reprimanded by his superiors for abandoning his mission, and was immediately sent back to Scotland. On his second trip he had much more success ministering to the underground Church and also won some converts through missionary activities.

Eventually, John was betrayed and arrested. He wasn’t immediately executed because the authorities, especially the Anglican Archbishop of Saint Andrews, wanted him to give up all the hidden Catholics that he’d ministered to, but he refused to the end. After being tortured and publicly mocked for over a week, he was placed on trial and demanded that he swear an oath of loyalty to the King in all matters temporal and spiritual.

This was his response, “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.”

John was convicted of treason and sentenced to death, and was executed by being hanged and disemboweled in Glasgow on this day, March 10th, 1615.

One story of his execution says that as soon as he was hanged, and before the executioners carried out the eviscerating part of the death sentence, he took his rosary that he’d hidden in a secret pocket and threw it into the crowd. It was caught by one of his enemies, who eventually converted and became a devout Catholic himself.

Saint John Ogilvie was canonized in 1979, the first post reformation Scottish Saint, and the first one since year 1250.

Saint John Ogilvie, pray for all of us of Scottish ancestry, and all those engaged in missionary activity and evangelization.

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