Before the gallows was packed away, the performance of The Martyrdom of Saint John Ogilvie was being considered for revival in 2015. That will be 400 years after the man was hanged at Glasgow Cross.
The story of the Scottish Catholic priest who was tortured, tried and convicted for treason in the climate of major change in the run up to the Reformation was told and re-told 11 times during Lentfest in churches in and beyond Glasgow.
At the final night in St Aloysius’ Church, Garnethill, the dramatic events unfolded before an audience of around 200. Principal actor, script writer, director and van driver Stephen Callaghan, showed clearly how this man died to defend religious freedom for everyone. The cast presented a moving story that made sense of history.
Stephen – who is also Director of Lentfest, an arts and music festival promoted by the Archdiocese of Glasgow – said: ‘This has been so worthwhile. We have a wonderful cast and crew from all over Glasgow and beyond and of different backgrounds and faiths. Each has brought something unique to the play. I hope the play will inspire people to find out more about St John Ogilvie.’
As the final bows were taken, one of the youngest cast members stepped forward spontaneously and thanked Stephen for how she had been welcomed into AGAP Community Theatre. ‘I knew no-one when I arrived,’ said the 16-year-old. ‘Now I have many friends.’
Many of the audience knew little of the martyr Saint John Ogilvie before they arrived, but they left with a new perspective on the freedom to follow any faith today in Scotland and how this has been won by martyrs like St John Ogilvie.
The performance was one of the last major music and drama events held for Lentfest. But during Holy Week there will be ‘Women at the Cross’ in St Alphonsus’ Church on Monday 2 April at 7.30pm.
At University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel there will be the free art exhibition depicting many different artists’ interpretation of events around Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The exhibition is open 9am till 5pm. Among some of the University’s own artefacts will be Roman nails of the type used in the time of Christ for crucifixion.
On Sunday 15 April at 3pm there will be Ecumenical Stations: Via Lucis: Stations of the Resurrection with prayers and meditations led by the University of Glasgow Chaplaincy Team, Rev Stuart MacQuarrie, Fr John Keenan and Strathclyde University Catholic Chaplain, Fr Brendan Slevin OP, held in Glasgow University’s Memorial Chapel.
The chaplaincy of Glasgow University is working with the Archdiocese to promote Lentfest – an arts festival held during the preparation time before Easter.
Twenty-nine artists from across the UK will take part in a major exhibition of Stations of the Cross and Resurrection at the University.
The strong line-up includes Peter Howson, Jolomo (John Lowrie Morrison), Anne Devine, Sandy Moffat and Richard Demarco alongside regular participants such as Sarah T. Bookless, Brendan Berry and David T. Collins.
Lentfest Director, Stephen Callaghan explains: ‘The popularity of the exhibition topic illustrates the timelessness of Biblical subject matter and the diversity of the artists will no doubt ensure a wide range of interpretations. We’ve never had so many artists take part and not all of them are Christian so it will be interesting to see what they come up with.’
Archbishop Mario Conti, Lentfest’s patron, added: ‘I am delighted that we have the support of the University of Glasgow Chaplaincy for this exhibition and I hope that many people will visit it during Lent and use it as a means of reflection and prayer.’
Among the highlights of Lentfest will be a new play about the martyrdom of Saint John Ogilvie who died at Glasgow Cross in 1615. A weekend of music workshops will be led by James MacMillan and Father Guy Nichols from the John Henry Newman Institute for Liturgical Music in Birmingham. The first performance of Graham Hair’s new version of ’The Seven Last Words’ with liturgical dance is also scheduled.
Glasgow University’s multifaith centre is expecting VIP visitors next year. The Rev. Stuart MacQuarrie, senior cleric at the church in the Square said: ‘We expect the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev. David Arnott and Glasgow’s Archbishop Mario Conti. We also plan a service for couples being married.’
Apart from the Lentfest exhibition, Glasgow University’s multifaith centre (the chaplaincy) is expecting VIP visitors. Said Rev. Stuart MacQuarrie, senior cleric at the church in University Square: ‘We expect a visit from the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev. David Arnott and Glasgow’s Archbishop Mario Conti. We also plan a service for couples being married.’