John Ogilvie SJ (1579-1615)
John Ogilvie SJ (1579-1615)

John Ogilvie SJ

St John Ogilvie was born in Scotland in 1579, the son of Sir Walter Ogilvie of Drum-na-Keith, Banffshire, and raised a Calvinist. He was sent abroad to further his education and was converted to the Catholic faith.   He entered the Jesuit novitiate in Vienna in 1599 and was ordained in Paris in 1610. After a spell teaching in Rouen, he was allowed to return as a missionary to Scotland where he arrived disguised as a horse dealer in 1613.   Within a year he was betrayed and arrested in Glasgow.  He spent many months in prison under torture defiantly refusing to denounce the pope’s supremacy.   On 10th March 1615 he was tried for high treason, found guilty and executed at Glasgow Cross and his body buried in an unmarked grave.  He was beatified in 1929 and, after a miracle was attributed to his intercession, he was canonised in Rome in 1976.   He is Scotland’s only martyr of the reformation period.




St John Ogilvie was many things:  he was a Catholic, he was a Scot, he was a priest and he was a Jesuit.   Many rejoice and have been inspired by his heroism in choosing to die for the faith.   We can honour him today because he is a martyr for religious freedom.   He refused to accept that the King could dictate one’s religious beliefs.   He is a hero for our time and through his intercession we can pray for religious tolerance.

Prayer to St John Ogilvie SJ

St John Ogilvie, by your devotion to Christ you held fast to the faith, even unto martyrdom.   With the grace of God, may I have a loving heart in the midst of trials.  May I, like you, ‘be of good cheer’ and trust in the love of God. Amen