THE MARTYR’S ROSARY

The following well-authenticated incident in connection with the martyrdom of Father John Ogilvie, S.J., at Glasgow, in the year 1615, may not be without interest to the reader. The authenticity of the Latin original document, from which I am going to quote in English, is beyond all question. It has the signature annexed to it of Father Boleslaus Balbinus, S. J. It was deposed to by him at Prague, February 10, 1671, “for the glory and honour,” as he writes, “of the Blessed Martyr, John Ogilvie”. Father Balbinus had been well acquainted, he tells us, with Baron Idus of Eckelsdorff, a man high in authority and in great favour with the Archduke Leopold (the brother of Caesar Ferdinand III.), and as they happened one day in familiar conversation to make mention of England, the Baron told the Jesuit Father, in the presence of many other persons, that he had been present at the death of Father John Ogilvie, who was put to death for the faith of Christ at Glasgow. His story shall be given in his own words ; “A young man, and a heretic at the time,” said he, “I was roaming about, as the custom of people of rank is, through foreign countries, and wandered on as far as to England and Scotland. Whilst I was in the latter country, Father John Ogilvie, the Jesuit, was brought out for execution at Glasgow. I am not able adequately to describe the sublime fortitude of soul with which he accepted death, though I daresay that the same has been described by some of our people” (here he showed that he hinted at Father Balbinus), “but I pass on to what regards myself. When Ogilvie, before his death, was bidding farewell to the Catholics from the scaffold, he threw amongst the people a rosary of the Blessed Virgin, as a memorial of himself. That rosary thrown, as it appeared, at random fell on me, and fell into my breast so conveniently that I could enclose it in the grasp of my hand ; but, lo and behold ! in a moment there was such a rush of the Catholics upon me, requesting that the rosary should be given up to them, that, not wanting to be assaulted violently, I was obliged to throw the rosary out of my breast. At that time there was nothing further from my thoughts than a change in my religion ; but thenceforward, just as though I had received along with the rosary some sort of wound in my soul, my conscience became uncomfortable, and I doubted about being in heresy. This thought was perpetually troubling me, that it was not for nothing that my breast had been singled out to receive the rosary thrown by such a hero. This thought I bore about me for many a year ; at last, overcome by the incessant reproach of my conscience’s expostulations, I gave in, and gave up Calvin for the Catholic faith ; and to nothing else do I ascribe this, my conversion, but to that rosary, and if I could now get possession of it, I would spare no cost, and I would keep it in gold when I got it.”

Taken from the Appendix to Our Lady’s Dowry : How England Gained That Title. By the Rev. T.E. Bridgett, C.SS.R. Permissu Superiorum. Third Edition. London : Burns & Oates, Ld. 1890.

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