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 wonderful selection of events and art works for Lentfest are underway. Check the website www.lentfest.co.uk
One of the highlights will be on Wednesday 7 March at 7.30pm in the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel when James MacMillan, Scottish composer, will introduce his own work ‘Why is this night different?’ It is centred around the Passover inspired String Quartet No 2 and will be played by St Patrick’s Ensemble.
There are also talks, exhibitions and the launch of the play by Stephen Callaghan, The Martyrdom of Saint John Ogilvie. This will tour almost a dozen community church halls starting on Saturday 10 March at 7.30pm in Glasgow University Memorial Chapel and finishing on Saturday 31 March at St Aloysius Church in Garnethill. It will be performed by people from across the Archdiocese of Glasgow as AGAP Community Theatre.
During Holy Week Glasgow Cathedral in Castle Street G4, will be the venue for three important works. On Monday 2 April the Great Passiontide Works for Organ – Bach, Brahms, Liszt and Reubke – will be played by Iain Simcock. On Tuesday 3 April he will direct the Choir of Glasgow Cathedral in Miserere (Allegri, Charpentier, Victoria, Brahms, Bruckner, Poulenc). On Wednesday 4 April, Iain will lead Lecons de tenebres by Francois Couperin with Morgane Collomb, soprano, Laura Jarrell, soprano and Alexandre Ducene, Viole de gambe.