Saint Bartholomew – Apostle



 Saint Bartholomew picture.




 Saint Bartholomew picture


The name Bartholomew translates from the Hebrew name, Bartholomaios, meaning “son of Talmai.” The life and history of St. Bartholomew the Apostle is largely pieced together based on speculation and loose associations within the Bible. Biblical scholars deduce references to a man named Nathaniel, a name not mentioned in the synoptic Gospels. Bartholomew’s name is associated with St. Philip, who may have been a follower of John the Baptist. His name is closely linked to several apostles. Nathaniel is assumed to be of Galilee where Jesus assembled all of his disciples.

The death of St. Bartholomew is also uncertain, and perhaps occurred in Armenia. It is further speculated that Astyages, King of the Median Empire, ordered him to be flayed alive and crucified upside down for converting his brother Polymius, King of Armenia. Michelangelo’s famous Last Judgment shows him flayed and holding his own skin. His feast day is celebrated on the 24th of August.

St. Bartholomew


                        In St. John’s Gospel, Bartholomew is known by the name Nathaniel (the liturgy does not always seem aware of this identity). He hailed from Cana in Galilee, was one of the first disciples called by the Lord. On that initial meeting Jesus uttered the glorious compliment: “Behold, an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile!” After the Resurrection he was favored by becoming one of the few apostles who witnessed the appearance of the risen Savior on the sea of Galilee (John 21:2). Following the Ascension he is said to have preached in Greater Armenia and to have been martyred there. While still alive, his skin was torn from his body. The Armenians honor him as the apostle of their nation. Concerning the fate of his relics, the Martyrology says: “His holy body was first taken to the island of Lipari (north of Sicily), then to Benevento, and finally to Rome on an island in the Tiber where it is honored by the faithful with pious devotion.”

The Church of Armenia has a national tradition that St. Jude Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew visited the Armenians early in the first century and introduced Christianity among the worshippers of the god Ahura Mazda. The new faith spread throughout the land, and in 302 A.D., St. Gregory the Illuminator baptized the king of Armenia, Dertad the Great, along with many of his followers. Since Dertad was probably the first ruler to embrace Christianity for his nation, the Armenians proudly claim they were the first Christian State.

 Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: bookbinders; butchers; cobblers; Forentine cheese merchants; Forentine salt merchants; leather workers; nervous diseases; neurological diseases; plasterers; shoemakers; tanners; trappers; twitching; whiteners; Gambatesa, Italy; Armenia.

Symbols: Flaying or tanner’s knife and book; three vertical flaying or tanner’s knives; human skin; human skin on a cross; devil under his feet; St. Matthew’s Gospel; scimitar; cross;

Often Portrayed As: elderly man holding a tanner’s knife and a human skin; skinless man holding his own skin.

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