August 25, 2016

Synaxarion of the Return of the Relic of the Holy Apostle Bartholomew

On the twenty-fifth of this month [August], we commemorate the Return of the Relic of the Holy and Glorious Apostle Bartholomew.


That we the faithful may gather abundant grace,
Bartholomew was found having been hidden.
On the twenty-fifth the body of Bartholomew was found.

It is a suitable time for me, to speak that davidic phrase: "God is wondrous in His saints" (Ps. 67:38 LXX). For I wish to narrate an awesome and extraordinary miracle, that God worked through His Saint. The Holy Apostle Bartholomew, journeyed to various lands, proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, finally arriving at Greater Armenia, where he was crucified. His holy relic was placed by the Christians there inside a sarcophagus, and they hid it in Albanopolis. However, because various healings took place at his sarcophagus, people flocked to it, and were released of their sufferings and diseases. When the Greeks, who were servants of the devil, saw these miracles and healings, they came against the holy sarcophagus, and the apostolic relic contained within. Therefore, when they found an opportunity, they cast the sarcophagus into the sea, along with four other sarcophagi, which contained the relics of four Martyrs: Papian, Lucian, Gregory and Akakios. God economized for this to take place, first, that through their journey covering much of the sea, the waters may be sanctified by them, and second, that the places where these holy relics were distributed to may be blessed. The Holy Apostle Bartholomew passed through the great distance of the Black Sea, then through the narrow depths of the Hellespont, namely the Propontis, and arrived at the Aegean Sea. From there he went towards the Adriatic, and went towards the left to the famous and great island of Sicily, and he was followed by the four sarcophagi of the victorious Martyrs we mentioned previously.

Bartholomew landed on the island of Lipari, and the four victorious Martyrs (how wondrous are Your works O Lord! and what words can express in hymns Your wonders?) accompanied the Holy Apostle Bartholomew, floating beside him as if he was a king, until the Apostle arrived at that place, according to his will. Then they turned and went to their own place, as it pleased God's Providence. The Martyr Papian landed in the city of Amila in Sicily, the Martyr Lucian landed in Messina of Sicily, Gregory landed in the city of Kolimi in Italian Calabria, and Akakios landed in the city known as Ashkelon. Then the divine Apostle showed himself through a divine revelation, to the Bishop of Lipari whose name was Agathon, who immediately went down to the shore. Seeing the great and fearsome monster, namely the sarcophagus, which contained the apostolic relic, he was full of wonder and astonishment, and he cried out regarding the miracle: "How is it O island of Lipari? How is it that such great wealth and treasure has been guided to you? You have been extravagantly magnified! You have been greatly glorified! Therefore dance, therefore skip, and indicate with your hands the treasure, and cry out to him: Welcome, welcome O Apostle of the Lord." Such things and much more did the Bishop say, and he praised the Holy Apostle, as well as the island of Lipari, and he then ceased speaking.

Because he wanted to set the sacred sarcophagus of the Apostle in a glorious place, he considered building a Temple to the all-praised Apostle. For this reason many pulled that honorable and very large sarcophagus here and there, but it would not completely move from its place until blessed Agathon, by divine revelation, tied it to two young cows, and these pulled it to the place chosen by the Apostle. Among the other miracles performed by the Apostle, he also did one greater, which even seems unbelievable among the infinite miracles of God. On a small island, called Vulcano, mext to the island of Lipari, there is a spring where thermal water boils night and day, and this was damaging Lipari due to its close proximation. This little island, therefore, at the time the sarcophagus of the Apostle was being pulled by the young cows, was also pushed away by divine Power from Lipari by seven stades, or approximately one mile, and it still appears pushed away till this day. Thus it no longer caused damage to Lipari, and the power and grace of the relic of the Apostle was proclaimed. O strange wonder! O supernatural miracle! Where else have such wonders been heard under the sun?

When Bishop Agathon built a most beautiful Temple in the name of the Apostle, he then treasured within it the revered and apostolic relic, along with the sarcophagus. As far as the miracles that take place there every day, who can narrate them all? After many years, during the reign of Emperor Theophilos the iconoclast, in the year 829, the castle was taken by the Hagarenes, where could be found the relic of the Apostle, due to the sins of the inhabitants, then the entire island of Lipari was deserted and uninhabited. Wherefore the leader of the city of Benevento, having heard of the miracles that take place through the apostolic relic, took action with the fervent faith he had in the Apostle of the Lord. He called on certain men from the city of Amalfi to go and bring the precious treasure of the apostolic relic, and so it happened. When it was still far out at sea, the leader of Benevento went out to welcome the Apostle of the Lord with the Bishop of the city, and many clergy and laity. Having brought the holy relic into the city with much honor and reverence, they placed it in a most revered place, where it could be found today, daily working various healings and miracles for those who flee to it with faith, to the glory of the most-good God.*


* The Basilica of Saint Bartholomew on the Island (Basilica di San Bartolomeo all'Isola) is located on Tiber Island, on the site of the former temple of Aesculapius. Emperor Otto built this church in 988, which was initially dedicated to his friend Adalbert of Prague. It was renovated by Pope Paschal II in 1113 and again in 1180, after its rededication upon the arrival of the relic of the Apostle Bartholomew. The relic was sent to Rome from Benevento, where they had arrived from Armenia in 829. The relic is now located within an ancient Roman porphyry bathtub with lions' heads, under the main altar. The marble wellhead bears the figures of the Savior, Adalbert and Bartholomew and Otto III.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fifth Tone
O wise Bartholomew, thy holy relics appeared like the dawn, shining in the East and coming to the West. They shine with the gifts, of The Twenty-Fifth Daystar of life, and dispel the darkness of diseases, from those who approach them with faith and hope.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou didst appear as a great sun to the world, with miracles and rays of teachings. Thou dost guide to the light, all who venerate thee, O Bartholomew, Apostle of the Lord.