Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
of sunshine surround the name and figure of the apostle Bartholomew,
whose full name was Nathanael Bartholomew. Every crown has at least one
happy-go-lucky character, and among the Twelve this was Bartholomew. The
Lord Himself rejoiced to see this young man without guile enter His
circle. Even today the name
“Nathanael” suggests to us an agreeable and
inoffensive person. Bartholomew lived on the brighter side of life,
unruffled, serene, cheerful.
Again we are confronted with the fact that we know almost nothing about
this Apostle from Scripture. However the few sentences that we do hear
is all that is needed.
probably a fisherman by profession.
Bartholomew had black,
curly hair, which covered his ears. His complexion was fair. He had big
eyes and a rather large nose. His stature was well-balanced, not too
small and not too large. He wore a white robe trimmed in crimson, and
also a white cloak, the hem of which was embellished with red jewels.
apostle was seemingly reared in a very wealthy atmosphere. Other passages recounted
that Bartholomew kept his costly garment and even dared to wear it when
he followed Christ.
the Master himself we learn that Bartholomew is a true Israelite and
that there is no duplicity in him. When
Bartholomew asked Jesus how He knew him, Jesus said: "I saw you under
the fig tree." This statement so stunned Bartholomew that he exclaimed
"Rabbi (Teacher), you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."
No other Apostles by far expressed greater belief in Jesus upon their
first encounter as Bartholomew. Jesus stated it exactly right. This
apostle was devout, holy and a true Israelite. Imagine calling someone a
king and never having seen him before! How could anyone call Jesus the
Son of God unless his mind and heart was completely enraptured by the
love of God. Jesus swept Bartholomew completely off his feet by
revealing to him some personal information that for him was truly
amazing. During this brief meeting with Bartholomew, Jesus told him that
he would experience greater things than with this first meeting.
did see greater things. He was one of those to whom Jesus appeared on
the shore of the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection. In the
four lists of the Twelve in Holy Scripture this apostle was always
called Bartholomew. In the Gospels his name was mentioned in the sixth
place, immediately after his friend, Philip. He had converted many to
Christ in that region and had suffered many toils and difficulties, he
came to Great Armenia. King Polymius, was so angered by him that
he gave the gruesome order to have Bartholomew skinned alive and then
beheaded. In this martyrdom he gave his soul back to God. The
tradition concerning the flaying of this missionary in Armenia was
spread by the Greeks, Latins and Syrians. Skinning alive was a form of
Persian capital punishment, and therefore it points to Persia as the
place of the death of the apostle. For
many years the whereabouts of the relics of the apostle were unknown.
In 983, through the maneuvering of Kaiser Otto III, they finally found
their way to Rome. Here they were placed in the Church of Bartholomew on
a small island in the Tiber. As late as 1238 the skull of this apostle
was brought to Germany, to Frankfurt on the main river, and preserved in
the Cathedral of Bartholomew
art pictures of Bartholomew with a knife as his symbol. It was with a
knife that he was flayed. Others, such as Bernini in his statue of
Bartholomew (which stands in the Lateran), portray him holding his skin
over his arm as he would carry a mantle. Michelangelo also created a
very expressive portrait of the flayed apostle.
feast day is August 24.