St. John Ogilvie was hanged at Glasgow Cross on the 10th of March, 1615.
John Ogilvie, posthumous saint, spent a mere 11 months “performing ministry” in his native Scotland, before he was 'switched off' on the gallows for denying the King's supremacy in matters of religion. In contrast, Ogilvie had to wait over 250 years for his sainthood. Aye, he should've kent better than go ag'in' Jamie Saxt and his conceited concept of the 'divine right of kings'. As a rule, Protestant martyrs were burned at the stake, but the Catholic Ogilvie was merely hung, albeit he was also sentenced to have been first drawn and lastly quartered. The sentence wasn't carried out as given and the saint to be was buried intact. Ogilvie had been raised a Presbyterian, but he became a Catholic convert and a stubborn one at that. As the saying goes,
“There’s nane sae devout as a convert.” You just wonder how those guys could be so sure. It's a great conceit to believe you have the inside track on the will of your god!
James Ogilvie was born at Drum-na-Keith, near Keith in Banffshire, in 1579. In those days, in Scotland, most folks were brought up to be strictly Presbyterian and James was no exception. Ogilvie's reasonably wealthy father sent him to France, with the idea of the thirteen years old Jamesie being able to get a better education over there. Big mistake! Despite being in the homeland of John Calvin, the impressionable James began to entertain doubts about his Calvinist up-bringing. According to Catholic wisdom, Ogilvie wasn't convinced by Calvin's teaching, which he reputedly saw as an “incredibly inhuman, not to say godless theory.” Funny that; Calvin and Luther and Knox said much the same about Catholic teaching. In any case, James persevered with his studies during his continental travels, before finally succumbing to his conscience.
After being exposed to Jesuit teaching and avoiding the plague, Ogilvie ended up going to the Scots College in Louvain, in Belgium, where he was “reconciled” to the Catholic Church, at the age of seventeen, in 1596. When that college closed, because of financial difficulties, Ogilvie went to study with the Benedictines and then transferred to the Jesuit college at Olomouc. The wandering Scot entered the Society of the Jesuits, at Brno in Moravia, on the 5th of November, 1599, and moved on to study philosophy at Graz and Vienna, before heading back to Olomouc, to study theology. Some years later, towards the end of 1610 and in Paris, James Ogilvie, suitably brainwashed, was ordained as a Catholic priest.
By that time in 1610, James had begun to get a bit homesick and, keen for any news of Keith and his ain folk, he met up with two Jesuits who had recently “escaped from Scotland” after failing to make any converts. Those two guys told Ogilvie that they had been imprisoned and tortured, and that Scotland was a “dangerous place” for a Catholic priest. It was, they said, “A country lost to god.” Despite their advice, Ogilvie became determined to return to his homeland, intent, believe it or not, on missionary work. At first, his Jesuit superiors refused him permission, but eventually, he was allowed to head home, which he did, after twenty-two years abroad, disguised as a horse trader called John Watson.
Whatever else you might say about Ogilvie, he didn't lack conviction. The would be missionary didn't make much progress in Scotland, so he went to England and, chancer that he was, he tried a direct approach to James VI & I. To coin a phrase, Ogilvie's audacity put 'the fear of god' into his Jesuit colleagues in London. Those worthies promptly sent Ogilvie back to France, to get him out of the way and more for their own safety than any concern about his well being. Things then became a bit comical as, back in France, he was, apparently, promptly reprimanded and sent straight back to Scotland. It seems to have been a case of, “Sod off! Who said you could come back here?”
Back in Scotland one more, Ogilvie made his way to Edinburgh, where he spent his time in furtively organising groups of Catholics. During the short time that he had, it appears Ogilvie did make a few converts. At least, he made enough for the achievement to have been recorded, brave souls that they were who admitted the fact. Then, fatefully, in the October of 1614, Ogilvie went to Glasgow. He was set on adding to his tally of converts, but was betrayed by an Adam Boyd, who clyped to the Protestant Archbishop. When confronted with, “You are over-bold to say Mass in a reformed city,” Ogilvie chose not to deny his purpose, saying, boldly indeed, “I came to undo heresy and save souls.”
Effectively cornered into confessing his true colours, Ogilvie was arrested, imprisoned and brutally interrogated. However, despite torture and deprivation, the Scottish Jesuit martyr steadfastly refused to reveal the names of penitents who had attended his services. On the occasion of his last interrogation, Ogilvie was asked to respond to questions that the King himself had contrived. True to form, those questions of the two-crowned King's were loaded, such that Ogilvie had two clear options; renounce Catholicism or sign his own death warrant. You have to admire Ogilvie's stubborn courage when he denied, unequivocally, the King's supremacy in matters of religion, stating that the Pope was supreme and had the power, not only to excommunicate Kings, but also to depose them.
Wrong answer! Ogilvie’s trial took place at the Tolbooth, in Glasgow, on the 10th of March, 1615. He wasn't charged with celebrating Mass, but with high treason for denying Jamie Saxt's spiritual jurisdiction. Ogilvie's trial lasted just two hours, before the jury found him guilty and condemned him to be drawn, hanged and quartered that very day. Ogilvie protested his loyalty in vain by asserting, “As far as civil obedience goes, the King does not have a more obedient subject in his realms, but in matters of the spirit, King James has no jurisdiction.” Ogilvie greeted his conviction with the words, “God have mercie upon mee! … if there bee heere anie hidden Catholikes, let them pray for me, but the prayers of Heretickes I will not have.” The puir spelling, we can put down to the chronicler of the day.
Ogilvie was executed in public on the 10th of March, 1615, but he didn't die immediately, so the executioner had to grab hold of his legs and pull him down to bring about his end. In addition, despite the sentence that he be quartered, Ogilvie's body was buried without mutilation. According to Vol. III of 'Ancient criminal trials in Scotland' by Robert Pitcairn, Esq., that was because disembowelling wasn't allowed by Scots law until 1709. That's why, way back in 1306, the English had to bring Wullie Wallace all the way to London to have him hung, drawn and dismembered.