Feast of St John Ogilvie: Did He Die For The Faith OR Religious Freedom & Freedom of Conscience?

Feast of St John Ogilvie: Did He Die For The Faith OR Religious Freedom & Freedom of Conscience?

Editor writes…

By claiming that Scotland’s only post-Reformation martyr gave his life in the cause of religious freedom and freedom of conscience (to follow whatever religion one chooses), the above commentators embody the spirit of our ecumenical/interfaith age – the age of religious indifferentism.  The video dates from around 4 years ago but the sentiment persists to the present time.   It is a blatant error.

If John Ogilvie had been fighting for religious freedom, there would have been no need to go about in disguise – think about it.  If his argument was “each to his own” and “tolerance” of every religion and none, he would not be a Catholic martyr.

In fact, the saint himself told us why he had returned to his homeland from the continent: he had returned to Scotland, he said, “to unteach heresy and to save souls”. Clear as the proverbial crystal. Similarly, his reference to the “heretics” in the crowd at his execution do not sound like the words of a man who cares a toss about “tolerance” of every religion and none. Why, then, would any Catholic insist that he had died merely to make a stand for so-called “religious freedom”?  Or is it actually true to say – and in harmony with God’s Divine Revelation – that one religion, one “denomination”, is as good as another?  Your thoughts…

John Ogilvie SJ was paraded through the streets before being hanged at Glasgow Cross on 10 March, 1615. His last words were: “If there be here any hidden Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have.” After he was pushed from the stairs, he threw his concealed rosary out into the crowd. There is a story that one of his enemies caught it and subsequently became a Catholic.  St John Ogilvie, pray for Scotland!  

Comments (15)

  • editor Reply

    Happy Feast to one and all!

    March 10, 2023 at 12:04 am
  • Catherine Reply

    Happy Feast Day!

    March 10, 2023 at 8:46 am
  • Michaela Reply

    John Ogilvie gave h is life for the Mass and the Faith – no question about that. To claim that he died in the cause of religious freedom is almost blasphemous. The poor souls in that video seem blissfully unaware of the saint’s own words on the matter!

    Happy Feast!

    March 10, 2023 at 9:45 am
    • Josephine Reply


      I agree, they are seemingly unaware of John Ogilvie’s very last words at his execution, although they may not know the meaning of “heretic” – they way things are in religious education these days, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

      A very happy feast to one and all!

      March 10, 2023 at 9:50 am
    • Nicky Reply

      I also agree that the saint gave his life for the faith not for “tolerance” of religious freedom.

      Happy Feast, belatedly!

      March 10, 2023 at 10:48 pm
  • Laura Reply

    Actually, even the Jesuits in Garnethill quote his own words about the prayers of hidden Catholics but not heretics, on their website, which I didn’t expect to see. As far as I can tell, the above video was filmed at the Jesuit place in Glasgow, too. https://www.staloysiusglasgow.org/st-john-ogilvie/

    Wishing everyone at Catholic Truth a very happy Feast Day!

    March 10, 2023 at 9:48 am
    • Josephine Reply

      That really is a surprise – I would have thought the Jesuits would have left that quote out of their bio on the saint. Thank God for that.

      Happy Feast!

      March 10, 2023 at 9:51 am
  • Faith of Our Fathers Reply

    To be Honest ED I just don’t get this Freedom on Conscience thing. I mean did Hitler have Freedom of Conscience. I doubt if St John Ogilvie gave His life for Hitler’s freedom of Conscience. Did Stalin have Freedom of Conscience when He also Murdered Millions, they must have for it certainly didn’t stop them sleeping at night.
    One other thing of St John Ogilvie was that their were no more Public Executions of Catholic Martyrs in Scotland. The John Knox Brigade were scared of the many people who went back to Catholicism when they seen the Public Execution of St John .
    St John Ogilvie we know died for Jesus Christ and The One Holy Catholic Faith. End of Story.

    March 10, 2023 at 10:56 am
  • editor Reply

    St John Ogilvie we know died for Jesus Christ and The One Holy Catholic Faith. End of Story.

    On the button!

    March 10, 2023 at 3:16 pm
  • Michael 🙏 Reply

    Dear Editor and friends

    Happy feast day!

    I agree St John Ogilvie died for the one true faith and religion on earth period.

    Every blessing

    Michael 🙏

    March 10, 2023 at 7:01 pm
  • Lucy-Maria Reply

    Happy Feast everyone at Catholic Truth Scotland!

    March 10, 2023 at 10:46 pm
    • Petrus Reply

      Lucy Maria,

      Happy feast day. My own daughter is called Lucy Maria!

      March 10, 2023 at 10:50 pm
      • Lucy-Maria


        That’s amazing. This isn’t my real name, though, I have to confess, I chose it for my username here to honour Lucy of Fatima and Our Lady. It’s a lovely combination for you to have picked for your daughter. I’m sure she will be doubly blessed by Sr Lucy (who will be Saint Lucy, some day IMO) and Our Blessed Lady.

        Happy Feast!

        March 10, 2023 at 11:05 pm
  • Petrus Reply

    Lucy Maria,

    It’s blogging convention to use a username – Petrus isn’t what’s on my birth certificate! 😉

    It’s great that you chose those names to guide you when blogging.

    March 11, 2023 at 10:49 am
  • Gabriel Syme Reply

    John Ogilvie died for the Catholic faith.

    I remember the former Archbishop of Glasgow, +Tartaglia, claiming that the “core issue” was that Ogilvie was a martyr for “religious freedom”.

    I remember thinking him a fool and that St John Ogilvie would be appalled by him.

    St John bravely went to the gallows, but the modern wimps cannot even bear to speak the truth of what he did. (Imagine how they would react if expected to face the gallows themselves!).

    March 16, 2023 at 8:38 pm

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