Saint John Ogilvie


In the Penal Times, the seminaries abroad trained young men to return to Scotland to serve as priests in a country where they would be outlaws. If caught, they would be banished; if they returned and were caught again, they would be imprisoned then banished again; for a third offence the punishment was death. The only death for which we have solid evidence is that of St. John Ogilvie (1615). He did not go through the stages outlined above but King James I and VI down in London seems to have taken a personal interest in the matter, with the result that an English punishment was applied. The English Reformation was a far bloodier affair than Scotland’s: many priests and priest-helpers were hung, drawn and quartered, an English punishment, rarely used in Scotland. St. John was spared being drawn and quartered, although that was the actual sentence handed down. It is said that it was not carried out because the crowd protested at this proposed cruelty by officials of Church and State.

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