HE is officially recognised as Scotland’s only Catholic martyr, who was killed for his faith in the heart of Glasgow

And now a campaign has been launched to mark the spot where St John Ogilvie was executed with a permanent memorial in his honour.

The saint was put to death at Glasgow Cross in 1615 after being arrested for preaching Catholicism at a time when it was outlawed. 

While delivering Catholic sermons or being a Catholic was not punishable by death, during his trial Ogilvie refused to pledge
allegiance to King James VI and was sentenced to be hanged and “drawn” – the term for disemboweling – for treason. Afterwards his body was removed from the scene of the execution and no record was kept of his final resting place. 

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Following the 400th anniversary of his death, there is growing support for a memorial and the Catholic group the Knights of St Columba have begun to co-ordinate an appeal.

Charlie McCluskey, supreme knight of the Knights of St Columba, said the order had first started to consider a permanent memorial to St John Ogilvie at Glasgow Cross on the saint’s 400th anniversary in 2015, but the time was now right.

He said that campaign was at the “initial stages”.

Mr McCluskey added: “We will be expanding our online campaign  shortly but we have not settled on exactly what way we will proceed in relation to petitions or otherwise etc.

“We would like to see a statue at Glasgow Cross and there is an alcove on one of the buildings which would be perfect. 

“But we do believe that as Scotland’s only martyr saint there should be something marking his execution in 1615. So we are aiming high.

“It was a historic event that happened in our city and I really believe we should acknowledge it."

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow used his homily at the St John Ogilvie feast day Mass in St Andrew’s Cathedral, a few hundreds yards from Glasgow Cross, to call on Scotland to make more of its saints

“John Ogilvie was a Scot from Banffshire,” Archbishop Tartaglia said.
“He was a Jesuit priest. He died here in our city. He is an honorary Glaswegian. He belongs to Glasgow. And above all, his blood was shed for Christ here in Glasgow. 

“We know he was executed at Glasgow Cross. We have the national shrine at St Aloysius’, where we celebrated ecumenical vespers in honour of St John Ogilvie, and we have the renowned painting of our martyr which is displayed in this Cathedral.

“These tangible things help us to claim St John Ogilvie as our saint, to love him and to keep his memory alive.”

The Archbishop also said that the saint’s memory was particularly important at a time when Catholics faced “more subtle forms of restricting religious freedom”.

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“It gets into the realm of limiting your freedom to say in public places what you believe and what you hold most dear in your heart and in your conscience.”, and that trend, let’s call it, is recognisable even in developed liberal democracies like ours,” he said.