Pope invited to Scotland to mark saint’s death

Pope Francis has been asked to visit Glasgow in March next year. Picture: AP
Pope Francis has been asked to visit Glasgow in March next year. Picture: AP
Share this article
Have your say

The Pope has been invited to Scotland next year to help mark the 400th anniversary of the death of St John Ogilvie.

Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia has written to Pope Francis asking him to consider a one-day visit to the city in March on the feast day of the saint.

The letter has been written “without any expectations or sense of entitlement” and comes only four years after Benedict XVI made a Papal visit to Scotland, with mass held in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park.

John Ogilvie, who came from Banffshire, was a convert to ­Catholicism and became a martyr for his faith. He was hanged in Glasgow on 10 March 1615 and made a saint by Pope Paul VI in Rome in October 1976.

Archbishop Tartaglia was present at the ceremony as a young priest and he hopes the 400th anniversary will be a “celebration and renewal of faith”.

The letter has been published in the Scottish Catholic newspaper Flourish.

He wrote: “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.”

Pope John Paul II also ­visited Glasgow during his papacy, holding the original mass in ­Bellahouston Park in 1982.

Papal visits usually involve years of planning, but the Scottish Catholic Church has pointed to a series of short visits by Pope Francis over the last year as hope that he could come to Glasgow.

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.”

St John Ogilvie was a Jesuit priest. Easterhouse man John 
Fagan’s recovery from cancer was the miracle needed to proceed to the canonisation.

St John Ogilvie is Scotland’s only post-reformation canonised saint and was recently painted by celebrated Scots artist Peter Howson.

The painting is now on display in St Andrew’s Cathedral, just a few hundred yards from the saint’s execution site.

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.