The weather has not been kind this year to us but, despite this, there was a good attendance at the Ogilvie Vespers held in St. Aloysius, Garnethill on 10 March. The service was presided over by Archbishop Conti, and he was joined by members of the Jesuit community and by Provost Mgr. Robert McDonald from Fochabers.

Before the service began, the St.Mungo Singers sang, a capella, the beautiful Virgil Thomson setting of Psalm 22 “My Shepherd will Supply”. As the clergy processed to the shrine of St. John Ogilvie, they continued with the Shaw anthem “Hail, Gladdening Light”. The candles at the shrine were lit, and the procession moved on to the main altar as choir and congregation joined in the Ogilvie hymn “On the Battlefields of Scotland”.

The psalms for the Vespers were Ps.114 and 115, and the Canticle chosen was from the Book of the Apocalypse “Worthy are you, our Lord and our God”, followed by a reading from the First Letter of St. Peter.

At the shrine of St. John Ogilvie

In his reflection, Archbishop Conti welcomed Mgr. McDonald who comes from same area as St. John Ogilvie, and he touched on the happy coincidence that St. Andrew’s Cathedral had been commissioned by Fr. Andrew Scott (later Bishop Scott), another native of the North East, and had been completed in 1815, two hundred years after St. John had been martyred in Glasgow.

John Ogilvie had not been born a Catholic but his mother’s family was Catholic and two of his uncles were Jesuits. Under the influence of the Jesuits, Ogilvie converted and later became a member of the Society of Jesus. He returned to Scotland in 1610, a hazardous thing to do in view of the laws against the Mass. The short time that he ministered in Scotland was not what mattered, said the Archbishop, but the manner of his death. Under the law, a priest was normally banished from the country and only executed if he returned. Ogilvie, however, was accused of treason. Despite torture, he refused to take the Oath of Allegiance and was hanged.

However it was clear that he died for his faith and his death was not in vain, as within 200 years, St. Andrew’s Cathedral was opened. His example holds true today in our own turbulent times. Archbishop Conti also made special reference to the example of Marion Walker who sheltered Ogilvie, and as a result was imprisoned and died there.

Conductor Noel Donnelly

As the congregation meditated on the Archbishop’s words, Dr. Donnelly played a quiet harp reflection. The Vespers then continued with a sung Responsory “Guard us, Lord, as the apple of your eye”, leading into the singing of the Magnificat.

In the Intercessions, prayers were said for our country and its spiritual leaders; for all present that they would cherish their faith; for those persecuted for their faith or betrayed in life; for peace and harmony in our homes and for our dead. The choir then sang Casciolini’s motet “Istorum enim”, a fitting piece for the feast of a martyr, followed by “God to enfold you”.

The service finished with a blessing, the singing of the plainchant Salve Regina, and Noel Donnelly’s hymn to St. John Ogilvie, before the congregation joined the Archbishop and the Jesuit Community in the Ogilvie Halls for refreshments.

Archbishop Conti at the launch of the Scots Saints Hymnbook

On this occasion, there was a special celebration, as the opportunity was being taken to launch a new St. Mungo Music publication “Hymns of the Scottish Saints” which had been the idea of Mgr. McDonald. Archbishop Conti had provided a foreword to the publication and thanked both Mgr. McDonald and Mgr. Fitzpatrick (who had collaborated on the work) for their efforts in providing another resource for parishes.