The blow from the Rosary was a blow of grace

Our_Lady_of_the_RosaryIn 17th-century England, Catholics suffered many bloody persecutions. In a document from the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, we read how Father John Ogilvie was tried in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 15, 1614.

In the minutes of the trial where he was sentenced to death we read: “This Scottish priest was ordained in Paris. He lived for 32 years in Germany and Louvain. He returned to Scotland this last May. He says that in the spiritual realm the Pope is above the King and that he is ready to die to testify to it.”

This Jesuit loved to laugh. His jokes brightened the dark days of his captivity during which his captors tried to “brainwash” him. “For eight days and nine nights, they kept me awake by using pins, needles and whips.” Eventually he was executed on March 10, 1615.

On the scaffold, he declared that he was dying for his loyalty to the Pope. Then he threw his Rosary into the crowd. The Rosary struck the nobleman Johann von Echesdoff, a Hungarian Calvinist just passing through Glasgow, on the chest. He later converted to Catholicism. John Ogilvie was canonized by His Holiness Pope Paul VI in mid-October 1976.

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8 Responses to The blow from the Rosary was a blow of grace

  1. Someone once said that the Rosary is more powerful than we know – or can know.

  2. Robert says:

    Thank you
    Saint Father John Ogilvie Pray for Us!
    The Rosary protected the Jesuit Fathers at Hiroshima.
    Fr Schiffer believed “that we survived because we were living the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the rosary daily in that home.”

  3. toadspittle says:

    “Someone once said that the Rosary is more powerful than we know – or can know.”
    A friend of yours, might we guess, Robert John?

  4. Robert says:

    I suppose you all know the story of Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, head of the Diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria’s Borno State. He was in a chapel praying before the Blessed Sacrament last December when, he says, something extraordinary happened: Jesus Christ appeared holding a sword, which He offered to the prelate. The moment he took the sword from Jesus’ hands, it transformed into Rosary beads. He then heard Christ repeat three times, “Boko Haram is gone.”
    The bishop recalls, “I didn’t need any prophet to give me the explanation. It was clear that with the Rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram.”

    This is the episode of the Protestant gentleman in the crowd was recounted in the records of the trial of the saint because he, the Baron John ab Eckersdorff, was converted by means of the rosary of our Jesuit martyr. Here is how the event is related, in the words of the Baron, as we have them in Father Daniel Conway’s three part history of Venerable John Ogilvie, published in 1878, in a Glasgow diocesan journal “The Month”:

    “His Rosary struck the breast of a young noble man who was on his travels in these kingdoms.
    He was a foreigner and a heretic his name, Baron John ab Eckersdorff. ” I was on my travels
    through England and Scotland as it is the custom of our nobility being a mere stripling, and not
    having the faith. I happened to be in Glasgow the day Father Ogilvie was led forth to the gallows,
    and it is impossible for me to describe his lofty bearing in meeting death. His farewell to the
    Catholics was his casting into their midst, from the scaffold, his rosary beads just before he met his fate. That rosary, thrown haphazard, struck me on the breast in such wise that I could have caught it in the palm of my hand; but there was such a rush and crush of the Catholics to get hold of it, that unless I wished to run the risk of being trodden down, I had to cast it from me. Religion was the last thing I was then thinking about : it was not in my mind at all; yet from that moment I had no rest. Those rosary beads had left a wound in my soul; go where I would I had no peace of mind. Conscience was disturbed, and the thought would haunt me : why did the martyr s rosary strike me, and not another? For years I asked myself this question it followed me about everywhere. At last conscience won the day. I became a Catholic; I abandoned Calvinism ; and this happy change I attribute to the martyr s beads, and to no other cause those beads which, if I had them now, gold could not tempt me to part with ; and if gold could purchase them, I should not spare it.”

    Saint John Ogilvie, pray for us!

  5. Crow says:

    That is truly inspirational story, both the main story and Robert’s appendix. The Rosary is mysterious and subtle and supernatural.

  6. I am left totally bemused. This piece opens by stating, quite correctly: “In 17th-century England, Catholics suffered many bloody persecutions.” However, it then goes on to discuss St John Ogilvie, whom every fule no is a SCOTTISH saint and martyr!!!

  7. Brother Burrito says:

    Hughie, will ye be so verra kind as to forbear the poor benighted English person who composed those words?

    England is mission territory the noo, ye ken?

  8. Brother Burrito says:


    An inspirational story no doubt, but there is no magic involved. The beads on string or chain, have no power of themselves. They serve only as a touchstone, a mnemonic.

    The repetitive prayers are not magic either. Jesus warned against people who value the number of their prayers over their heartfelt sincerity in the saying of them. These prayers only serve to centre one’s mind on the most important things of all: The Incarnation, Life, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the parts played in all of these by His Mother.

    To be a Catholic is to keep all of these things in one’s heart ahead and above all other considerations, now and forever. The Rosary helps many people to do this.

    Others make frequent inner exclamations like “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have Mercy on me a sinner”, or even “Jesus!”.

    My own mother, exasperated by her children, was often heard to say “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Yup, I can claim to be partly responsible for her sanctification 😉

    These are all weapons in the fight against worldliness and impiety. Don’t limit your arsenal, use them all.

    Never bring a sword to a gun fight:

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