Monday, March 10, 2014
Today, the universal Church celebrates the life of Saint John Ogilvie, a former Calvinist who was martyred in Scotland during the Protestant Reformation.
St. John Ogilvie was born of a noble Scottish family in 1579 and was raised a Calvinist. John converted to Catholicism at the age of 17 at the Scots College in Louvain, Belgium. He attended several Catholic schools and soon discovered a call to join the Jesuits. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in Bohemia in 1599 and was ordained in Paris in 1610, the year before the last two Jesuits working in Scotland were obliged to leave as persecution intensified. He returned to Scotland in 1614 with a fellow Jesuit and they made converts in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
John was betrayed by a potential convert, imprisoned, interrogated, then tortured for the names of active Catholics. He gave no information. “Your threats cheer me; I mind them no more than the cackling of geese,” he told his captors. Asked if he feared to die Father John replied, “No more than you do to dine.”
After a long imprisonment in which he was repeatedly tortured, St. John was tried on the charges of treason and was convicted after three trials. He continued to refuse to name names. The saint was martyred in 1615 at the age of 36 after he was sentenced to death by hanging. He was beatified in 1929 and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1976.
For more information, see Saint John Ogilvie, Jesuit Saint by Father John Hardon, S.J.