Justice or Mercy
St. Louis IX of France, Holy Cross Window Saint

Saint Bartholomew, Apostle and Martyr


statue of St. Bartholomew
Statue of St. Bartholomew in St. John Lateran

With the same irony that names St. Bartholomew patron saint of tanners, the Church selects a reading from St. John's gospel, the only gospel which does not use the name Bartholomew to celebrate his feast day.  Philip, paired with Bartholomew in the three synoptic gospels, is paired with Nathaniel in John's gospel. Hence one of the reasons some scholars posit Nathaniel and Bartholomew as the same person.


One of the traditions concerning Bartholomew is that he was martyred by being skinned or flayed alive. This was the favorite depiction in art since the Renaissance and he is often shown holding the knife by which he was flayed in one hand and his own skin in the other. You may recall that historians speculate that the face on the flayed skin St. Bartholomew holds in Michelangelo's Last Judgment is actually a self-portrait by the artist.

Today we can celebrate Bartholomew's intellectual curiosity to explore the truth, his gift of faith to apprehend it when he met Jesus, and his zeal and enthusiasm to have this faith change not only his life but the life of the world. How sorely we need a thirst for truth in today's society where truth has been cynically discarded for "my story." So many have either despaired that there really is any truth, or have given up even looking for it.  Rational discourse has been replaced by dramatic, interpretive monologue.

Let us ask for the energy and courage St. Bartholomew had to spread the message that Christ is the "Way, the Truth and the Life."