Pope invited for Scottish martyr's anniversary

Pope Francis has been invited to Glasgow to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of Scotland’s only post-Reformation saint - a Jesuit. The invitation to the Catholic Church’s first Jesuit Pope has been issued by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow to celebrate the life, ministry and sacrifice of St John Ogilvie SJ.

Ogilvie – whose national shrine is situated in St Aloysius Church in Glasgow - was executed at Glasgow Cross on 10 March 1615. Archbishop Tartaglia has asked Pope Francis to visit the city to mark the 400th anniversary of his martyrdom next March, saying such a visit would be "wonderful".

“I know that this is short notice for the visit of a Pope,” he says. “I present this request to you without any expectations or sense of entitlement … I do not even know if it is practical! However a visit would be such a grace.”

John Ogilvie came from Banffshire and was brought up as a Calvinist. After he converted to Catholicism, he joined the Society of Jesus in Moravia on 5 November 1599 and after studying in Graz and in Olomouc, and after a period of teaching in Vienna, he went to Paris, where he was ordained in 1610. He was assigned to Rouen until November 1613 when he was finally able to return to his native Scotland, landing at Leith, the port for the capital city of Edinburgh. His ministry among Scottish Catholics lasted for less than a year. He was arrested, tortured and finally hanged for his faith in Glasgow on 10 March 1615. He was canonised in Rome by Pope Paul VI on 16 October 1976, at a ceremony attended by the young Father Tartaglia.

Photo: Peter Howson's painting of the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie SJ.