Home > New College Library Books > Scotland’s last saint : St John Ogilvie

Scotland’s last saint : St John Ogilvie

Martyr in ScotlandThe 10th of  March is celebrated as the feast day of St John Ogilvie in the Roman Catholic Church. The only post-Reformation saint from Scotland.  John Ogilvie (1578/9–1615) was born and brought up as a Calvinist in Strathisla, Banffshire. After studying at the Protestant University of Helmstedt in northern Germany, he became a Catholic, and after further study took his vows as a Jesuit priest in 1601. Ogilvie volunteered for missionary work in Scotland, and arrived in Leith in 1613. Ogilvie’s work was to administer the sacraments to Catholics, bring doubters back to the fold, and seek new converts throughout  Edinburgh, Glasgow and Renfrewshire. It On 4 October 1614 he was betrayed and captured while walking in a Glasgow street. The authorities’ narrative of his trial and execution was printed as A true relation, of the proceedings against Iohn Ogiluie, a Iesuit … (1615), available  to University of Edinburgh users via Early English Books Online. While other Catholics suffered trial and imprisonment at this time, “Ogilvie was the only Catholic in Scotland ever to be judicially sentenced and executed for his religion” (1).

In the nineteenth century John Ogilvie was rediscovered with the publication of Scottish historical sources, leading to the publication of a number of works on his life. New College Library holds  Jean Ogilvie, ecossais, jesuite : torturé et mis à mort pour la foi  by James Forbes, (Paris : 1901) and Martyr in Scotland : The life & times of John Ogilvie by Thomas Collins (London: 1955). John Ogilvie was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1976.

(1) Mark Dilworth, ‘Ogilvie, John [St John Ogilvie] (1578/9–1615)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/20586, accessed 28 Feb 2013]

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