June 11, 2012

St. Theodore the Studite on Bartholomew the Apostle

By St. Theodore the Studite

The blessed apostle Bartholomew preached first in Lycaonia, and after in India, and at the last in Alban, a city of Great Armenia, and there he was first flayed and afterward his head smitten off, and there he was buried.

And when he was sent by our Lord to preach, as I suppose, he heard how our Lord said to him: "Go, my disciple, to preach, void out of this country, and go fight and be capax of [valiant in] perils. I have first accomplished and finished the works of My Father, and am first witness; fill thou the vessel that is necessary and follow thy Master, love thy Lord, give thy blood for His blood, and thy flesh for His flesh, and suffer that which He had suffered; let thine armor be debonair in thy sweatings, and suffer sweetly among wicked people and be patient among them that perish thee."

And the apostle recoiled not, but as a true servant and obeissant to his master went forth rejoicing, and as a light of God illumining in darkness the work of holy Church, like as the blessed St. Austin witnesseth in his book, that, like a tiller of Jesus Christ, he profiteth in spiritual tilling.

St. Peter the Apostle taught the nations, but St. Bartholomew did great miracles. Peter was crucified the head downward, and Bartholomew was flayed quick, and had his head smitten off. And they twain increased greatly the Church by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

And right as a harp giveth a right sweet sound of many strings, in like wise all the apostles gave sweet melody of the unity divine, and were established by the King of kings. And they departed among them throughout all the world, and the place of Armenia was the place of Bartholomew, that is from Ejulath unto Gabaoth. There thou mayst see him, with the plough of his tongue, ear [plough] the fields unreasonable, sowing in the deepness of the heart the word of the faith, and in planting the vines of our Lord and trees of paradise. And to everyone each setting medicine for the remedies of the passions, rooting out pernicious thorns, cutting down trees of felony, and setting about hedges of doctrine.

But what reward yielded the tyrants to their curate? They gave to him dishonour for honour, cursing for benediction, pains for gifts, tribulation for rest, and right bitter death for restful life. And since that he had suffered many torments, he was of them discoriate and flayed quick, and died not, and yet for all that he had them not in despite that slew him, but admonished them by miracles, and taught them by demonstrances, that did him harm. But there was nothing that might refrain their bestial thoughts, and withdraw them from harm.

What did they afterwards? They enforced them against the holy body, and the maladied and sick men refused their physician and healer, the city refused him that illumined their blindness, governed them that were in peril, and gave life to them that were dead.

And how cast they him out? Certainly, they threw the body into the sea in a chest of lead, and that chest came from the region of Armenia with the chests of four other martyrs, for they did also miracles and were thrown with him into the sea. And the four went before a great space of the sea, and did service to the apostles like as servants in a manner, so far that they came into the parts of Sicily in an isle that is named Lipari, like as it was showed to a bishop of Ostia which then was present. And these right rich treasures came to a right poor woman. And these right precious margarets [pearls] came to one not noble, the bright shining light came to one right heavy.

And then the other four came in to other lands, and left the holy apostle in that isle, and he left the other behind him.

And that one which was named Papian went into a city of Sicily, and he sent another, named Lucian, into the city of Messina. And the other twain were sent into the land of Calabria, St. Gregory into the city of Columna, and Achate into a city named Chale, where yet at this day they shine by their merits.

And then was the body of the apostle received with hymns, louings, and candles honourably, and there was made and builded a fair church in the honour of him.

And the mountain of Vulcan is nigh to that isle, and was to it much grievous because it received fire, the which mountain was withdrawn by the merits of this holy saint from that isle seven miles, without to be seen of any body, and was suspended toward the sea. And yet appeareth it at this day to them that see it, as it were a figure of fire fleeing away.

Now then, therefore, I salute thee, Bartholomew, blessed of blessed saints, which art the shining light of the holy Church, fisher of fishes reasonable, hurter of the devil which hurted the world by his theft. Enjoy thee, sun of the world, illuminating all earthly things, mouth of God, fiery tongue pronouncing wisdom, fountain springing good things, full of health, which hallowest the sea by thy goings and ways not removable, which makest the earth red with thy blood, which repairest in heaviness, shining in the middle of the divine company clear in the resplendishour of glory. And enjoy thee in the gladness of joy insatiable. Amen.

Source: Englished by William Caxton, 1483