BY Ian Dunn | April 28 2017 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Councillors give green light to St John Ogilvie memorial

Glasgow Council leader and SNP opposition give pre-election commitment to honour martyr

Plans for a public memorial to St John Ogilvie at the site of his execution in Glasgow took a major step forward this week as both Labour and the SNP committed any future Glasgow City Council administrations to supporting the campaign after the May 4 election.

Ahead of next Thursday’s vote, senior Glasgow councillors from Labour and the SNP—who are battling for control of the city council—as well as the sole Conservative on the local authority, said they wanted to see the project move forward and meet with the working group that’s been set up to campaign for a memorial.

Scottish Labour’s Frank McAveety, the current council leader, said that ‘it is a privilege to work with Glasgow’s various faith groups.’

“If re-elected, I will be delighted to assist with the efforts to establish a permanent memorial to St John Ogilvie,” he said. “His life is of significant historical and religious importance and Glasgow Cross is a site of rich religious history. The creation of a memorial here is something that my administration will support.”


Historic zone

David McDonald, the SNP’s deputy leader on the council, also backed the campagin and said a memorial to St John Ogilvie could be part of his party’s plans for a ‘historic zone’ celebrating Glasgow’s past.

“Our idea for the historic zone is initially centred on the protection and preservation of the current built heritage,” Mr McDonald said. “But we also want to support new ideas that help tell Glasgow’s story. I remember learning about St John Ogilvie at school, and through many conversations with my late grandfather, so I know he’s still a living figure for many in the Church and I’d be keen to help.”

He said there was ‘a real lack of information about Glasgow’s history’ in the medieval heart of the city around Glasgow Cross. “I think there’s also something to be said for looking at the story of St John Ogilvie in the light of Scottish history and recent events around the world,” he said.

“Some kind of memorial could give an example of what happens when people don’t listen to each other and aren’t tolerant of other views. This seems a very positive project and I’d be delighted to meet with organisers if I’m re-elected.”

Conservative councillor David Miekle is also keen to get involved saying that, if re-elected, he would be ‘delighted’ to meet with the working group to hear more about this project. “If other Conservative councillors are elected I am sure they would also be happy to take part in a meeting,” he said.


Online campaign

The campaign for a permanent memorial to the saint on the site of his death began earlier this year, after a widely-shared online post by Sancta Familia Media—a parish group out of Motherwell Diocese that makes Faith-based videos—flagged up the lack of a memorial at the site. The initial campaign has now spawned a working group, which had its first meeting last week. Charlie McCluskey, supreme knight of the Knights of St Columba, who have been heavily involved in the campaign for a memorial, said the first meeting had been very positive and a long-held dream was close to being realised.

“I remember the days when it was just Blessed John Ogilive,” he said. “This has been important for a long time but there seems to be real momentum now.”

Another member of the working group, Tony McCartney of St Mary’s parish in Carlton, said: “I believe there should a memorial. It’s the most momentous occasion in Scottish history.

“It’s not been acknowledged in any form. His canonisation brought international recognition to Glasgow and that should be marked.”

John Patrick Mallon, of Sancta Familia Media, said: “This is very important not only for Catholics but anyone who loves history. If you look at Glasgow Cross there’s no marker of this at all.”

Margaret McElroy, of St Judes and St John Ogilvie parish Barlanark, who is also on the working group, said she was sure Catholics would ‘come along and support’ the memorial and that people will ‘rally around it.’

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow said earlier this year that the saint’s memory was particularly important at a time when Catholics faced ‘more subtle forms of restricting religious freedom.’

St John Ogilvie is Scotland’s only Catholic martyr and was hanged at Glasgow Cross in 1615.

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