Archbishop Tartaglia to Pope Francis: Scots Martyr Died For Religious Freedom – Come and Celebrate With Us!

Archbishop Tartaglia to Pope Francis: Scots Martyr Died For Religious Freedom – Come and Celebrate With Us!


Glasgow’s Archbishop, Philip Tartaglia has written to Pope Francis asking him to consider a day visit to the city to mark the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie, who was executed at Glasgow Cross on 10 March 1615.

In his letter to Pope Francis asking him to visit the city on the saint’s anniversary and feast day, the Archbishop said: “It would be wonderful if you could come to Glasgow for a day for this unique event.

I would envisage your visit as being of a purely religious-pastoral nature,  … “I know that this is short notice for the visit of a Pope … I present this request to you without any expectations or sense of entitlement. I do not even know if it is practical! However a visit would be such a grace.”

The news is carried in this month’s edition of Flourish, the Archdiocese of Glasgow’s official newspaper, out today [Thursday June 5].

John Ogilvie, a convert to Catholicism who came from Banffshire, was a Jesuit priest martyred for his faith. He was hanged in Glasgow on 10th March 1615. He was canonised in Rome by Pope Paul VI on 16th October 1976. Archbishop Tartaglia was present at the ceremony as a young priest. Many Scottish pilgrims travelled to Rome for the canonisation.

Easterhouse man John Fagan’s miraculous cure from cancer  provided the miracle needed to proceed to the canonization.

 St John Ogilvie is Scotland’s only post-reformation canonised saint and was recently painted by celebrated Scots artist Peter Howson – the painting now being on display in St Andrew’s Cathedral, just a few hundred yards from the saint’s execution site.

Although Papal visits are usually planned with several years of anticipation, Pope Francis has surprised many by choosing to make short day visits within Italy to places of special significance, most notably last year when he went for the day to the island of Lampedusa which is the arrival point for many immigrants from Africa. Two further day visits within Italy are due this summer.

Archbishop Tartaglia said: “Whether the Pope is able to come or not, I would hope that the anniversary will be a celebration and renewal of faith for the Catholic community, for other Christians, and for all people of faith. And I would hope that it could be a moment of reflection on the deeper realities of human existence for all people of good will.

“Our celebrations would be clearly marked too by an appreciation of how ecumenism has changed the relationship between Christians over the last four centuries and focus on how Christians and other people of faith can make common cause for the core issue for which St John Ogilvie died ,namely religious freedom.

“My thought is to provide a new focus on the figure of St John Ogilvie: his identity as a Scot, his faith journey, his vocation, his priestly ministry, his capture and death, his sainthood and canonisation.

If it were to go ahead, a visit by the Pope would be the third papal visit to Glasgow, after the Masses of St John Paul II and Pope Benedict.  Source


It’s bad enough to think that Pope Francis might be coming to Glasgow, with all the fuss and publicity that would entail. But that the Archbishop of Glasgow is now claiming that our one and only Scots martyr died for the cause of religious freedom, when the opposite is true, is scandalous in the extreme. St John Ogilvie died rather than deny the Catholic Faith; he would be fully opposed to ecumenical activities of the sort the Archbishop of Glasgow (and Pope Francis) promote. My message to Archbishop Tartaglia – get over it!  What’s your message to him?  (Be as forthright as you wish but not rude  please and thank you!)

Comments (119)

  • Frankier


    Is it possible to have Masses offered for various intentions or a Mass for the dead in SSPX churches?

    June 7, 2014 at 12:02 pm
    • editor


      Yes, of course. People routinely ask the priests at our chapel to offer Masses. I presume you mean are people who don’t attend those chapels able to ask for Masses, and again I’d say yes. I’m presuming that if a non-attendee wrote with their intention and enclosed a stipend, that would be fine.

      June 7, 2014 at 7:37 pm
      • Frankier


        Thanks for that.

        It has got to the stage now that if you ask for a Mass to be said the priest takes your offering and doesn`t, or can`t, tell you when it will take place. We used to be told that the Mass stipends were sent to the missions to be offered there but surely the locals were in as much need of Masses as people from the other side of the world.

        If I ask for a Mass to be offered for someone I always like to attend if possible
        but it is not too easy to nip over to Uganda or Timbuktu and get back home the same day.

        I feel a Mass offered in the traditional rite has more power to it, if that is the right expression.

        I may contact St Andrews church and ask for one to be offered for very special intentions and I ask also for one Hail Mary from all the visitors to this site for the same intentions.

        June 7, 2014 at 8:49 pm
      • editor


        I’m not sure that our priests would be able to tell you exactly when the Mass would be offered – they are away a lot, travelling from here to there to everywhere, offering Masses and administering the other sacraments. I’ve never asked to know when a Mass would be offered, but there’s certainly no harm in asking, as long as you are prepared for them to say they can’t be sure or whatever. The really important thing for the person for whom the Mass is offered, is that it is offered. You being there might simply be the icing on the cake! Me being there would surely be the cherry on the icing!

        June 7, 2014 at 11:18 pm
      • Frankier


        Yes, I thought that would be the case but I would be happy to have a Mass offered whenever or wherever it could be fitted in.

        However, there`s nothing I like better than a wee cherry on top of a cake.

        June 8, 2014 at 11:47 am
      • editor


        “However, there`s nothing I like better than a wee cherry on top of a cake.”

        Me, too! I had one yesterday – an empire biscuit with a gorgeous white coffee. “Decadent” I think is the word. Pure decadence 😀

        June 9, 2014 at 12:12 am
  • crofterlady

    Editor, about the Glasgow chapel: yes it’s far too small now what with the ever increasing congregation. Recently, our family arrived 30 minutes early to get Confession and even then it was filling up. Either a bigger chapel or more Masses, I think. Mind you the Society priests already have a big workload, each saying 3 to 4 Masses on Sundays.

    June 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm
    • editor


      Please don’t suggest more Masses. We want a new church, with easier access for all, especially the disabled. Already one elderly gentleman fell down the stairs and broke his shoulder. So a new church – and soon. Please and thank you…

      June 7, 2014 at 7:40 pm
      • gabriel syme

        I agree Editor, a bigger Church is needed. What do you think the likelihood of this is, in the short term?

        If we could take over something like St Patricks, Anderston, or St Columbas, Hopehill Road, that would be ideal Both are much bigger than St Andrews – yet still centrally located, very near to St Andrews in fact – and currently both barely have two parishioners to rub together. I expect both will get the chop shortly, in the forthcoming diocesan shake-up.

        Of course, I expect the diocese would rather see these beautiful buildings become flats / pubs / crack-dens, than an SSPX church.

        Do you think a new Church would require the sale of St Andrews, or might it be possible to keep it on too?

        Perhaps a good goal for local growth would be to obtain a bigger, centrally located Church for Sunday masses, but keep St Andrews as a “chapel of convenience” for city centre workers – evening masses/ holy days etc. Wishful thinking?

        June 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm
      • editor

        Gabriel Syme,

        I’m not privy to the financial state of the SSPX in Scotland but I imagine that any purchase would rest on the sale of the current chapel.

        And I agree with you that it is highly unlikely that the archdiocese would sell to the Society – I suspect, strongly, that the archbishop would sooner demolish a church than sell to the SSPX.

        It would be great if the Society took control of St Patrick’s Anderston, if for no other reason that the SSPX priests would see to it that it was properly re-consecrated. After the murder of the Polish girl and all the scandal associated with that shocking event, it was NOT properly re-consecrated – our requests were ignored – but merely “re-dedicated” – a few prayers in the presence of the city’s bigwigs, which is sure to win a slot on the TV news.

        June 7, 2014 at 11:12 pm
      • Vianney

        Gabriel, there is no way the Archdiocese would sell a church to the SSPX. The only real hope is trying to find a disused Protestant church and as some congregations leave the Church of Scotland over gay ministers they have to vacate their buildings which will be sold off. Keep your eyes peeled, although I have to say that the present Glasgow chapel was up for sale for over a month and nobody from the congregation noticed even though the Mass Centre was over the road. It took a visitor from Edinburgh to notice it and bring it to the attention of the priests.

        June 8, 2014 at 12:09 am
      • gabriel syme

        I expect you are right Vianney, sadly.

        What about using an intermediary, would that work?

        Or pulling a “St Nicholas Du Chardonnet” on them?

        Just sad they would rather a Church closed, than allow it to remain open for Catholic worship.

        June 9, 2014 at 12:27 am
      • Christina


        The only real hope is trying to find a disused Protestant church and as some congregations leave the Church of Scotland over gay ministers they have to vacate their buildings which will be sold off. Keep your eyes peeled

        The experience in Manchester where the SSPX tried to buy a disused Anglican church proves that his will probably never happen.

        June 13, 2014 at 1:22 pm
      • Stephen

        I’m so sad to hear that St Patrick’s has dwindled to a tiny congregation. I was born and baptised there. As a wee boy lived in Dorset St and St Vincent St in Anderston until we moved out to the new ‘schemes’ in Balornock.
        St Patrick’s is such a beautiful Church. I even remember the scrambles outside at weddings 🙂

        June 8, 2014 at 1:03 am
      • editor


        I remember the scrambles outside at weddings in St Catherine Laboure’s. Did I care when all and sundry told me I should be beyond that stage? I was only 23, for goodness sake! And I needed the cash 😀

        June 9, 2014 at 12:15 am
      • Stephen

        Ha. I think I gave up scrambles when I was 6 🙂

        June 9, 2014 at 1:38 am
      • Vianney

        Here in the east they are called poor oots and it was the excitement of passing a church where there was a wedding taking place and waiting for the happy couple to come out. It was always great fun pushing other bairns out of the way to get to the money. The last poor oot I was at I got £3.60, that a week past Saturday!

        June 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm
    • gabriel syme

      Yes its true the priests are already very busy – I think the GB + Ireland district currently has 3 seminarians, which should eventually help, though it would be good if we could have some additional ‘reinforcements’ from the US/French districts which are booming.

      June 7, 2014 at 11:03 pm
      • Vianney

        Today one priest had to say Mass in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Gateshead because the other is away helping out in the north of England. When he comes back the other one is off to help out in London. It’s too much to expect one priest to serve three cities in one day.

        June 8, 2014 at 10:29 pm
      • Stephen

        Yes, that is a worry. Is that kind of workload the norm across the UK for Priests of the SSPX?

        June 8, 2014 at 10:40 pm
      • Vianney

        Well it’s the norm for the one’s based in Scotland. I’m not saying that the priests in England don’t travel around a lot but I don’t think they have as much to cover as our priests.

        June 8, 2014 at 11:14 pm
      • Stephen

        What would the SSPX community do in Glasgow if you lost the Service of an available priest? In fact what do those that way inclined do when they are out of geographical reach? What is the SSPX guidance on this?

        June 9, 2014 at 1:42 am
      • editor


        The general position of the Society is, as you might expect, that we should avoid the novus ordo Mass, since it is imperfect, and God is due true worship.

        Society priests would say that if no SSPX TLM is available we should pray a “dry Mass” using our missals, pray our rosary etc.

        However, not everyone is at ease with that and – as in the case of a friend of mine with children – they are afraid of becoming lax about the Sunday obligation.

        I am in the happy position of being able to travel with relative ease to a Society chapel but I do sympathise with those who don’t have that option.

        In general, I have wavered a bit from one position to another, not knowing whether, caught in circumstances, I should, e.g. receive Holy Communion at a novus ordo Mass. Some years ago, attending a family wedding, I made the decision to receive, if the priest would allow for me to kneel using some kind of support. I emailed him to request this for myself and a few others and he agreed, announcing at the beginning of Mass that those who wished to receive kneeling should simply go to the side where there were kneelers in place. I couldn’t stand, that is for sure. I can’t forget the words of Bishop Olmstead (USA) who said: “if we could see who it is that we receive, we would not kneel, we would crawl.”

        One traditional priest – albeit speaking on another subject – once pointed out to me that we are living in such an unusual period of Church history that we can all only do what we can do, in good conscience.

        Thus, although the Society position would certainly be to avoid the novus ordo at all costs (while acknowledging that, with proper intention, matter and form, the priest is offering a valid Mass) I think each person has to make up their own mind, in good conscience. That’s different from saying “the Church allows it so it’s ok” – that’s not a properly formed conscience, but having studied all the issues, then we can only make a decision on this for ourselves. That’s my personal take on it. Maybe others will differ.

        The above written in haste. Please let me know if it raises more questions than it answers.

        June 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm
      • Stephen

        Thanks Editor and Vianney for those replies, which I had missed earlier.

        June 21, 2014 at 12:56 am
      • Stephen

        [quoted from a site later found to be sedevacantist – hence link removed – Ed:]



        …Fourth, in the history of the Church, most Catholics never had the blessing of worshipping at a Mass every Sunday. So, if you are in a position of not having a Traditional Latin Mass at which to worship every Sunday, first of all tend to your own soul by the time-tested practices for Catholics in that situation.

        It goes on to show you how to conduct a “dry Mass”.

        June 21, 2014 at 1:13 am
      • editor


        Your quote is clearly not from an SSPX source as the Society does not say that the new Mass and sacraments are invalid. That’s not the case. It is really not wise to visit those sites, at least not until you have a thorough handle on the crisis, Stephen. If I’m Googling for something and am led to the “traditio” or other sedevacantist site, I come right out again. I know I cannot rely on what I read being accurate. While obviously not everything they say is wrong, much of what the say IS wrong – including that quote. Nor would I worry about “conducting a dry Mass”. Reading through your missal for the Mass of the day is all that is required, if you choose to do that.

        That quote is very wrong on Confession. I regularly go to Confession in a diocesan church.

        One of our priest answered this question some years ago, when he said he’d been asked specifically about Confession and he said as long as the priest says the proper words of absolution, then that is valid and his only other remark was not to listen to any “spiritual advice”. At the time, I was still attending the novus ordo Mass and this was a one-off visit to an SSPX chapel in England. I smiled and thought “some of us “novus ordo laity” don’t listen to their spurious comments in Confession anyway.”

        Hopefully, none of this will be of any concern to you. I hope you will be able to find a traditional Mass where you live in Australia – either SSPX or, if not possible, a traditional Mass offered by another traditional society or even a diocesan Summorum Pontificum Mass until you return to Glasgow and St Andrew’s, Renfrew Street.

        June 21, 2014 at 9:43 am
      • Stephen

        Oops, no idea. Edit away 🙂

        Editor: thank you Stephen – I removed the links but left the comment, since corrected below.

        June 21, 2014 at 9:52 am
      • Stephen

        And now I’m being really pernickety but I’m currently reading The Problems With the New Mass: A Brief Overview of the Major Theological Difficulties Inherent in the Novus Ordo Missae Paperback by Rama P. Coomaraswamy and on p64 it is quite clear that “”It is indefensible, therefore, to dispense or receive a sacrament whose validity is only “”probable”‘. Validity must be certain.

        Sorry to bang on about this, but better to have a light conscience, than to err grievously?

        June 21, 2014 at 5:05 am
      • editor


        Please avoid reading anything on this subject unless it is an SSPX source, as the “invalidity-always” literature tends to come from sedevacantists. It is certainly not the position of the SSPX that the new Mass and sacraments are invalid, per se.

        All Catholic should know that a sacrament is valid if the correct form and matter are used, and if the priest has the intention to do what the Church teaches. So, unless your priest tells you that he doesn’t believe in transubstantiation or in the power of Penance and the words of absolution, then we must presume the best.

        When a TLM is available, and we are informed on this subject, I agree we have a duty to attend and to avoid the novus ordo Mass, but the other extreme is also wrong. Written in haste. Interruptions galore…

        June 21, 2014 at 9:49 am
      • Stephen

        Well that particular book was loaned to me by an SSPX Priest last week along with three other books. I have had a look to see if he has a connection to sedevacantism after your comments and indeed he has. Bit of a minefield isn’t it?

        June 21, 2014 at 10:04 am
      • editor


        It is a minefield all right. Unbelievably so. The Devil is having a laugh. Big time.

        June 21, 2014 at 6:16 pm
      • Vianney

        Stephen, I actually attend the Edinburgh church but the Editor has said more or less what I would say. Thankfully,there are more priests now and with a Scottish priory it’s been many a long year since the days when, if a Mass was cancelled, it would always be in Scotland.

        June 9, 2014 at 1:19 pm
  • McCarthy

    Re. your calling St. John Ogilvie “our one and only Scots martyr”, you are forgetting all the priests and their helpers, before St John died and after that, who were imprisoned, tortured and starved to death. It was the policy of the regime not to have a large number of public martyrs, as in England but to let years of imprisonment destroy the health of these who died for their Faith as surely as St. John did. Also, as is often quoted in the newsletter, in the Saint’s own words “I have come to Scotland to unteach heresy and to save souls.” Not to promote “religious freedom” clearly.

    June 9, 2014 at 7:43 pm
    • editor


      Forgive my slip of the keyboard. I meant, obviously, our only “canonised” martyr, as you will know if you read our newsletter (as you clearly do).

      Careless me. What am I LIKE?

      June 9, 2014 at 9:15 pm
      • Dr John Dowden

        Short answer to your question, Editor, is that you are a bit like a foreigner who is not fully aware of the customs and history of the host country and the details which the indigenous people know. Live abroad and it happens.

        The modern Roman-Catholic community in Scotland has its origins overseas, a mixture of Poles, Italians, a few Lithuanians and a great number of Irish. So when you talk about “our” saints, “your” saints are the products of what to most Scots is a foreign church. Ogilvie was (like some mujahid) trained abroad and died a “martyr” to the treasonable proposition that the king of Scots might be assassinated at the behest of a foreign bishop. So, yes, “your” saint, not “ours”. That indeed is Dr Tartaglia’s real problem with his come-celebrate-with-us line. Three cheers for murderous, foreign-inspired treason! Just the ticket for Brigtoun, where they still occasionally recall (of a July day) the auld faithful cause that gave us our freedom, religion and laws.

        Since, however, this is a blog for Scottish catholic tradition, some traditions which are much older than the Roman-Catholic Church in Scotland may be worth mentioning. The St Albans scriptorium’s books have legends of a St Eebba, a ninth-century Scottish nun who (with her sisters) cut off their noses to save themselves from a worse fate at the hands of marauding Danes. Scottish Virgin Martyrs, I suppose. A bishop of Caithness so annoyed the natives by his proposal to increase church taxation that they ganged up on him and burned him to death – his body was transferred to the new cathedral. So a Scottish Bishop Martyr to add to “our” collection. And, most famous of all, and dating from the period when the bishops of Rome had usurped local rights to canonize saints, St William the Baxter. This chap became a martyr while on pilgrimage and is (for some obscure reason) the Patron Saint of Adopted Children. So, the Lothians, the far north and Perthshire: no shortage of Scottish saints and martyrs. Ogilvie is by no means the first of the Scottish martyr throng, nor even the first to be canonized by a bishop of Rome.

        And it looks like the whole pantheon of Scottish saints recorded in the thumping great two-volume ‘Breviary’ of the Aberdeen Use (‘our awin Scottis vse’) will be published before too much longer. Plenty of saintly Scots to pick from, without getting into contentious “martyrs” from the days of our more recent and unhappy divisions.

        Interesting old thing Scottish catholic tradition if one takes the trouble to research it. 

        June 13, 2014 at 2:06 pm

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