The shrine of St. John Ogilvie

The Jesuit community in Glasgow celebrated the Feast of St. John Ogilvie with a sung Vespers on the vigil (9th March) of the Feast. The celebration was presided over by Archbishop Conti and the music of the Vespers led by the St. Mungo Singers.

As the congregation gathered, Dr. Noel Donnelly played some quietly meditative harp airs, and the choir sang the joyful “Misericordias Domini”. Then the service began with the singing of Geoffrey Shaw’s “Hail, Gladdening Light” as the Archbishop processed to the lovely shrine of St. John Ogilvie, before continuing on to the sanctuary while everyone joined in the well-known hymn “Ogilvie, an Ogilvie”.

After the singing of Psalms 114 and 115 (settings by Dr. Donnelly) and Br. Stephen Smyth’s translation of the Canticle from Philippians 2 (setting by Mgr. Fitzpatrick), and the reading from 1 Peter, Archbishop Conti gave the reflection.

He reminded those present that John Ogilvie was a link to our Catholic past. John Ogilvie had not been baptised a Catholic but, on being sent to Europe for his education, he had been received into the Church and then into the Jesuits. He returned to Scotland at his own insistence, at a time when the Mass had been banned because of its importance to Catholics. On his capture, he was arraigned for treason but the true reason was his fidelity to Christ and his Church.

Archbishop Conti at the Ogilvie Vespers

The Archbishop commented that today the threats to us are of a much diminished order but they exist in the form of changes in views and social constructs which we are asked to fit in with. St John is a saint for our own age as he invites us to fidelity to the values which are best for Church and society in the long run, and the wish for Church unity for which Christ prayed. For this reason, we remember him with affection.

As the congregation reflected on Archbishop Conti’s words, Dr. Donnelly played a quiet harp piece. Then the responsory “Guard us, Lord, as the apple of your eye” was sung, followed by the Magnificat. In the Intercessions, all present prayed for the country; for the strength to follow the example of those who, like St. John Ogilvie, had shown loyalty to their faith; for those who still suffer persecution for their faith; for peace and harmony in our homes; and for our dead whose example had inspired us.

As the service drew to a close, the choir sang “Istorum Enim”, recalling St. John’s vision of the martyrs in the Apocalypse, before leading the singing of the plainsong Salve Regina, followed by Noel Donnelly’s hymn in honour of St. John Ogilvie.