Bartholomew the Apostle

Saint Bartholomew the Apostle:

Icon of the Apostle Bartholomew

Saint Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles chosen and invested (ordained, Mark 3:14) by Jesus. Bartholomew comes from the Aramaic bar-Tolmay, meaning son of Tolmay or son of the furrows (presumably a plowman). Bartholomew is thought to also be the Nathaniel referred to in the Gospel of John (1:43-51):

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” (KJV)

Bartholomew appears in Luke‘s Acts of the Apostles as one of the witnesses of the Ascension of Christ.

Saint Bartholomew stained glass (holding a “skinning” knife) at Oxford

Eusebius of Caesarea‘s Ecclesiastical History states that after the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary journey to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. Other traditions record him as serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, and Lycaonia (in central Turkey) before going on to Armenia.

Bartholomew and his fellow apostle Jude (Thaddaeus, the author of the canonical Letter of Jude), brought Christianity to Armenia. Together these saints are considered the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Bartholomew is said to have been martyred in Albanopolis in Armenia. Legend has it that he converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity. Astyages, Polymius’ brother, consequently ordered Bartholomew’s execution. According to oral tradition he was flayed alive and then crucified, head downward.