The Holy Apostle Bartholomew

Commemorated on June 11

      The Holy Apostle Bartholomew was born at Cana of Galilee and was one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ. After the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, it fell by lot to the holy Apostles Bartholomew and Philip (Comm. 14 November) to preach the Gospel in Syria and Asia Minor. In their preaching they dispersed through various cities, and then met up together again. Accompanying the holy Apostle Philip was his sister, the holy virgin Saint Mariam.Traversing the cities of Syria and Myzia, they underwent much hardship and tribulations, they were stoned and they were locked up in prison. In one of the villages they met up with the Apostle John the Theologian, and together they set off to Phrygia. In the city of Hieropolis by the power of their prayers they destroyed an enormous viper, which the pagans worshipped as a god. The holy Apostles Bartholomew and Philip with his sister proved their preaching with many a miraculous sign.
      At Hieropolis there lived a man by the name of Stakhios, who had been blind for 40 years. When he received healing, he then believed in Christ and was baptised. News of this spread throughout the city, and a multitude of the people thronged to the house where the apostles were staying. The sick and those beset by demons were released from their infirmities, and many were baptised. The city governor gave orders to arrest the preachers and throw them in prison, and to burn down the house of Stakhios. At the trial pagan priests came forth with the complaint, that the strangers were turning people away from the worship of the ancestral gods. Thinking that perhaps some sort of magic power was hidden away in the clothes of the apostles, the governor gave orders to strip them. But Saint Mariam began to seem like a fiery torch before their eyes, and none dared touch her. They sentenced the saints to crucifixion. The Apostle Philip was raised up on the cross upside down. But there then began an earthquake, and a fissure in the earth swallowed up the governor of the city, together with the pagan priests and many of the people. Others took fright and rushed to take down the apostles from the crosses. Since the Apostle Bartholomew had not been put up high, they managed to take him down quickly. The Apostle Philip however had died. Making Stakhios the bishop of Hieropolis, the Apostle Bartholomew and Blessed Mariam left the city and moved on.
      Preaching the Word of God, Mariam arrived in Likaoneia, where she peacefully died (Comm. 17 February). The Apostle Bartholomew set off to India, and there he translated from Hebrew the Gospel of Matthew, and he converted many pagans to Christ. He visited likewise Great Armenia (the country between the River Kura and the upper stretches of the Tigrus and Euphrates Rivers), where he worked many a miracle and healed the daughter of the emperor Polimios from the demons afflicting her. The emperor in gratitude sent gifts to the apostle, who however refused to accept them, saying that he sought only for the salvation of the souls of mankind. Then Polimios together with the empress, their healed daughter and many of those close to them accepted Baptism. And people from the ten cities of Great Armenia followed their example. But through the intrigues of the pagan priests, the Apostle Bartholomew was seized by the emperor brother Astiag in the city of Al'ban (now the city of Baku), and crucified upside down. But even from the cross he did not cease to proclaim the good news about Christ the Saviour. Finally, on orders from Astiag, they flayed the skin from the Apostle Bartholomew and cut off his head. Believers placed his remains in a pewter coffin and buried him.
      In about the year 508 the holy relics of the Apostle Bartholomew were transferred to Mesopotamia, to the city of Dara. When the Persians seized the city in 574, Christians took the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew with them when they fled to the shores of the Black Sea. But since the enemy overtook them there, they were compelled to leave the coffin at the sea. By the power of God the coffin miraculously arrived on the island of Lipara. In the IX Century, after the taking of the island by the Arabs, the holy relics were transferred to the Neapolitan city of Beneventum in Italy, and in the X Century part of the relics were transferred to Rome.
      There is mention about the holy Apostle Bartholomew in the Vita of Joseph the Melodist (+ 883, Comm. 4 April). Having received from a certain man part of the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew, the Monk Joseph conveyed them to his own monastery near Constantinople, and he built a church in the name of the Apostle Bartholomew, placing therein part of the relics. The Monk Joseph ardently desired to compile a laudation in song in honour of the saint, and he fervently besought God to grant him the ability to do so. On the feastday in memory of the Apostle Bartholomew, the Monk Joseph caught sight of him at the altar. He beckoned to Joseph and took the holy Gospel from the altar-table and pressed it to his bosom with the words: "Bless thou the Lord, and let thine song delight the world". And from that time the Monk Joseph began to write hymns and canons and with them adorn not only the feastday of the Apostle Bartholomew, but also the feastdays of many other saints, compiling altogether about 300 canons. Saints John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanios of Cyprus and certain other teachers of the Church regard the Apostle Bartholomew as being one and the same person as Nathanael (Jn. 1: 45-51, 21: 2).

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Holy Apostle
Bartholomew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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