Who was St. Bartholomew?



St. Bartholomew (known as Nathaniel in St. John's Gospel), was a doctor in Jewish law and a dear friend of St. Philip the Apostle. He went willingly with Philip to see Christ and recognized the Savior immediately as the Son of God. On that initial meeting, Jesus uttered the glorious compliment, "Behold, an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile!"

After having received the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost, Bartholomew evangelized Asia Minor, northwestern India, and Greater Armenia. In the latter country, while preaching to idolaters, he was arrested and condemned to death.

After the Resurrection, Bartholomew 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. 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



St. Bartholomew

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St. Bartholomew's feast day is celebrated on August 24.