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Pope Francis has sent a special envoy to Glasgow to mark the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie, Scotland s only post-reformation canonised Catholic martyr. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O Connor “ the former Archbishop of Westminster - has been asked by the Holy Father to be his special envoy at a Mass in St Andrew s Cathedral, Glasgow at 7.30pm on March 10, St John Ogilvie s feast day.
In his homily, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia will highlight attacks on religious freedom, which he will claim, is:

"fragile, not always recognised, not always respected, in some places denied, leading, as we know, to persecution, sectarianism and brutality. St John Ogilvie was a standard bearer for the right relationship between the state and the religious freedom of its citizens. It is important that churches, faith communities and religious bodies are in dialogue with government and civil authorities about what religious freedom and freedom of conscience mean in their circumstances."

Archbishop Tartaglia will also commend ecumenical engagement in Scotland, saying;

"Ecumenical relations between the churches teach us how to live and express our baptismal unity with prayer, dialogue, shared witness in the name of peace and justice, common service to the poor and needy, and with huge courtesy and friendship. If the goal of the ecumenical movement, full visible communion, escapes us still and seems as far away as ever, there is a very real and effective ecumenism of friendship, prayer, witness and service which is a great good and which keeps the hope alive. Oh “ and an ecumenism of martyrdom too, because, as the Pope said, the martyrs belong to all Christians. So, even as the Catholic community rejoices for St John Ogilvie, I offer St John Ogilvie tonight as a martyr for all Scots Christians, so that we may together reap the rich harvest of faith and love which his blood has sowed in our land."

 

ENDS

Peter Kearney
Director
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
Glasgow
G1 2DH
0141 221 1168(T)
0141 204 2458(F)
07968 122291(M)
pk@scmo.org
www.scmo.org

 

Notes to Editors:

You are invited to send a photographer/camera crew/reporter to the Mass at St. Andrew's Cathedral, Clyde Street, Glasgow at 7.30pm2. The full text of Archbishop Tartaglia's homily is shown below.3. John Ogilvie was a convert to the Catholic faith from Banffshire he was educated on mainland Europe before being ordained a Jesuit priest. He returned to his native country to serve for a short time. He was hanged at Glasgow Cross on March 10 1615 after having been arrested for saying Mass and celebrating the sacraments with persecuted Catholics in and around the Glasgow area. He was canonised by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1976 following the miraculous cure of Glasgow man John Fagan from cancer.

Homily for the Mass for the 400th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Saint John Ogilvie  

As we gather here in St Andrew s Cathedral, Glasgow, to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St John Ogilvie, I want to offer you three reflections.

1.The first observation arises from the words of two Popes: Blessed Pope Paul VI and Pope Francis. First Blessed Paul VI: Together with many hundreds of pilgrims from Scotland, I was present as a young priest on that October day in 1976 in St Peter s Basilica, Rome, when Pope Paul VI declared John Ogilvie to be a saint. We have great joy , declared Pope Paul VI at the start of his homily for the Mass of Canonisation, in being able to announce to all of God s pilgrim Church on earth the glorious name of a new Saint, that of John Ogilvie, who died a martyr in Glasgow on 10th March 1615. And coming forward nearly 40 years, Pope Francis: Pope Francis , who last year declared Pope Paul VI to be Blessed, has sent us a message, which has been read for us by his Special Envoy Cardinal Murphy O Connor. In his message, Pope Francis invites us to make sure that our thankful and joyful commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St John Ogilvie will be an inspiration for us to follow Christ more faithfully, to observe his commandments more faithfully, and, in our present circumstances, to love the Gospel of Jesus and the Church of Christ with even greater ardour.

So a first level of response to this feast is one of thanksgiving and joy for St John Ogilvie. It was a day of thanksgiving and joy in Rome in 1976 when John Ogilvie was declared a saint. It is a day of thanksgiving and joy today when we commemorate the 400th Anniversary of his Martyrdom. John Ogilvie is our saint, our martyr, and we love him. We love him and honour him because he was a Scot, because he was one of our Catholic community, because he was a young Jesuit priest, because he was brave, because he suffered and died for his faith, his freedom and his religion, and because in him we see Jesus on the cross. In a time marked by relativism, by an aversion to speak the truth of faith, and by what sociologists call low intensity religion , St John Ogilvie and the martyrs remind us that there is a line that they will not cross and that faithfulness to Christ is non-negotiable even at the cost of their lives.And along with thanksgiving, joy and pride, we should be moved, as Pope Francis says, to follow Jesus more faithfully, to love the church more ardently, to do God s will more generously. Speaking of his own death, Jesus said to his disciples, ¦unless a wheat grain falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest. We are here today after 400 years.

So a harvest there has been, and we praise God for this and we acknowledge the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of St John Ogilvie and the Saints of Scotland.But we really need that harvest to continue to grow, a harvest of faith and of prayer, of family life, of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, of service and of witness. These graces - people of faith, generious-hearted priests and religious, loving families, young people open to God s presence and call- these are the spiritual gifts and graces on which we have always depended and on which rest the future of the Church and of Christian life.  2. And that brings me to my second point “ how Christians of different churches, communities and confessions live together. There is no getting away from it. St John Ogilvie was a victim of the spiritual and social and cultural storm of the Reformation in Scotland which very thoroughly purged almost all of this land of the Catholic Church, of Mass and the Sacraments, of bishops and priests and monks and nuns, of churches, of monasteries, of art and statues, and, with few exceptions, of almost every visible vestige of the pre-Reformation church.

It is a miracle that the Catholic Church survived anywhere in Scotland in any form at all and an even greater miracle that it recovered to some extent. I don t say this with anger or resentment or bitterness, but simply as a fact of history in which in some way God shows his hand, and we need constantly to discern God s unfolding purpose.During those turbulent times, Father John Ogilvie, a Scot from Banffshire, a young convert Catholic Jesuit priest had bravely returned from Europe to Scotland to minister to the beleaguered remnant of the Catholic community. Fr Ogilvie was arrested, imprisoned, tortured, convicted and hanged for treason at Glasgow Cross not far from here 400 years ago today. He was quickly venerated as a martyr throughout Europe. He was declared blessed in 1929 and canonised in 1976. We love St John Ogilvie, we honour him, we admire him, we strive to imitate his faith and his steadfastness.To be honest, I have been wondering for months how to speak about the tumultuous events of that time in a positive and hopeful way which might promote growth and understanding among Christians here in Scotland. And I was amazed to look back at Blessed Paul VI s canonisation homily and I realised that he had faced the same dilemma. And I was delighted and thrilled at how he solved it. He said that he did not want to turn praise and joy and thanksgiving for St John Ogilvie into any kind of polemic. And neither do I. And neither should we.The reality is that Western Christianity has fragmented. We live with confessional divisions which appear more or less insurmountable, and do not look like changing any time soon. At the same time, we thank God that we do not treat each other any more like the way John Ogilvie was treated. And we should remember that at the time of the Reformation, there were Protestants who died for their faith too both in Scotland and elsewhere. Recently Pope Francis received in audience the Right Rev John Chalmers, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Together they reflected on the recent killing of the Coptic Christians in Libya, and Pope Francis uttered words which should make us all think: The martyrs, he said, belong to all Christians. Ecumenical relations between the churches teach us how to live and express our baptismal unity with prayer, dialogue, shared witness in the name of peace and justice, common service to the poor and needy, and with huge courtesy and friendship. If the goal of the ecumenical movement, full visible communion, escapes us still and seems as far away as ever, there is a very real and effective ecumenism of friendship, prayer, witness and service which is a great good and which keeps the hope alive. Oh “ and an ecumenism of martyrdom too, because, as the Pope said, the martyrs belong to all Christians.

So, even as the Catholic community rejoices for St John Ogilvie, I offer St John Ogilvie tonight as a martyr for all Scots Christians, so that we may together reap the rich harvest of faith and love which his blood has sowed in our land.3.And my final reflection perhaps will help us to share our saint more readily: John Ogilvie was convicted and executed for treason. By the time John was executed, his case was notorious and the King wanted to make an example of him. King James VI wanted John to acknowledge the divine right of kings in all matters both spiritual and temporal, such that John would have to repudiate the authority of the Successor of Peter in spiritual matters. John refused to do that despite imprisonment, torture, inducements and the fear of execution. So he was brought to the gibbet where he declared his loyalty to the King and at the same time he made it clear that he was dying for religion alone.Back in 1976, at the Mass of Canonisation, Blessed Paul VI already saw the significance of this. Amazingly, the Pope s words then are strikingly relevant for today. He said: We can today credit St John Ogilvie, along with all the others who suffered for the same cause, with the merit of having heroically contributed with his sacrifice to the task of claiming religious freedom for civilisation ¦.Therefore the saint whom we venerate, St John Ogilvie, far from being a symbol of civil or spiritual discord, softens our unhappy recollection of violence or of the abuse of authority towards religion. St John Ogilvie will help us to resolve religious disputes in the direction of mutual respect, serene study and of faithful adherence to the Truth so as to recover that longed-for unity of faith and love which Christ taught us as the highest expression of his Gospel. And I think we can all say Amen to that!Reliable reports and analyses show us that in today s world, religious freedom “ which some consider to be the first and most cherished human right “ is fragile, not always recognised, not always respected, in some places denied, leading, as we know, to persecution, sectarianism and brutality. St John Ogilvie was a standard bearer for the right relationship between the state and the religious freedom of its citizens. It is important that churches, faith communities and religious bodies are in dialogue with government and civil authorities about what religious freedom and freedom of conscience mean in their circumstances. This is a harvest, a legacy, from St John Ogilvie that all Christians and all people of goodwill can share in and consider their own.

I am more than happy to make Blessed Paul VI s concluding words at the Mass of Canonisation of St John Ogilvie in 1976 the concluding words of this homily for the 400th Anniversary Mass of his Martyrdom. Here are the words of Blessed Pope Paul VI to the Scottish pilgrims on that joyful occasion: We are happy to recognize in this sympathetic and heroic figure of a man, a saint and a martyr the symbol of your own religious, strong and generous land. And in Saint John Ogilvie we willingly greet a glorious champion of your people, an ideal exemplar of your past history, a magnificent inspiration for your happy future. We honour in Saint John Ogilvie an outstanding member of that Society of Jesus which has given so many other valiant soldiers like him to the cause of Christ and of civilization. In him we jubilantly greet a beloved son of the Catholic Church, a typical citizen of the world who is called to discover the light for its harmony, progress and peace in the faith of Christ ¦.

In Saint John Ogilvie, Scotland has given to humanity a great hero of freedom and of faith.  St Andrews s Cathedral, Glasgow10th March 2015  

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