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Saint Bartholomew the Apostle

The Liturgical Year


Dom Prosper Gueranger


August 24


Saint Bartholomew the Apostle

A witness of the Son of God, one of the princes who announced his glory to the nations, lights up this day with his apostolic flame. While his brethren of the Sacred College followed the human race into all the lands whither the migration of nations had led it, Bartholomew appeared as the herald of the Lord, at the very starting point, the mountains of Armenia whence the sons of Noe spread over the earth. There had the figurative Ark rested; humanity, everywhere else a wanderer, was there seated in stillness, remembering the dove with its olive branch, and awaiting the consummation of the alliance signified by the rainbow which had there for the first time glittered in the clouds. Behold, blessed tidings awake in those valleys the echoes of ancient traditions: tidings of peace, making the universal deluge of sin subside before the Wood of salvation. The serenity announced by the dove of old, was now far outdone. Love was to take the place of punishment. The ambassador of heaven showed God to the sons of Adam, as the most beautiful of their own brethren. The noble heights whence formerly flowed the rivers of Paradise, were about to see the renewal of the covenant annulled in Eden, and the celebration, amid the joy of heaven and earth, of the divine nuptials so long expected, the union of the Word with regenerated humanity.

Personally, what was this Apostle whose ministry borrowed such solemnity from the scene of his apostolic labours? Under the name, or surname of Bartholomew, (Son of Tholmai) the only mark of recognition given him by the first three Gospels, are we to see, as many have thought, that Nathaniel, whose presentation to Jesus by Philip forms so sweet a scene in St. John’s Gospel? (John 1:45-51)—a man full of uprightness, innocence and simplicity who was worthy to have had the dove for his precursor, and for whom the Man-God had choice graces and caresses from the very beginning.

Be this as it may, the lot which fell to our Saint among the twelve, points to the special confidence of the divine Heart; the heroism of the terrible martyrdom which sealed his apostolate, reveals his fidelity; the dignity preserved by the nation he grafted on Christ, in all the countries where it has been transplanted, witnesses to the excellence of the sap first infused into its branches. When, two centuries and a half later, Gregory the Illuminator so successfully cultivated the soil of Armenia, he did but quicken the seed sown by the Apostle, which the trials never wanting to that generous land, had retarded for a time, but could not stifle.

How strangely sad, that evil men, nurtured in the turmoil of endless invasions, should have been able to rouse and perpetuate a mistrust of Rome among a race whom wars and tortures and dispersion could not tear from the love of Christ our Saviour! Yet, thanks be to God! the movement towards return, more than once begun and then abandoned, seems now to be steadily advancing; the chosen sons of this illustrious nation are labouring perseveringly for so desirable a union, by dispelling the prejudices of her people; by revealing to our lands the treasures of her literature so truly Christian, and the magnificences of her liturgy; and above all by praying and devoting themselves to the monastic state under the standard of the Father of Western Monks. (The Mekhitarists, Armenian Monks of St. Benedict) Together with these holders of the true national tradition, let us pray to Bartholomew their Apostle ; to the disciple Thaddeus (One of the seventy-two) who also shared in the first evangelization; to Ripsima the heroic virgin, who from the Roman territory led her thirty-five companions to the conquest of a new land; and to all the martyrs whose blood cemented the building upon the only foundation set by our Lord. Like these great forerunners, may the leader of the second apostolate, Gregory the Illuminator, who wished to see Peter in the person of St. Sylvester, and receive the blessing of the Roman Pontiff,—may the holy kings the patriarchs and doctors of Armenia, become once more her chosen guides, and lead her back entirely and irrevocably to the one fold of the one Shepherd!

We learn from Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. Lib. v. c. l.) and from St. Jerome, (De Script. Eccl. c. xxxvi.) that before going to Armenia, his final destination, St. Bartholomew evangelized the Indies, where Pantaenus a century later found a copy of St. Matthew’s Gospel in Hebrew characters, left there by him. St. Denis records a profound saying of the glorious Apostle, which he thus quotes and comments: “The blessed Bartholomew says of Theology, that it is at once abundant and succinct; of the Gospel, that it is vast in extent and at the same time concise; thus excellently giving us to understand that the beneficent Cause of all beings reveals or manifests himself by many words or by few, or even without any words at all, as being beyond and above all language or thought. For he is above all by his superior essence; and they alone reach him in his truth, without the veils wherewith he surrounds himself, who, passing beyond matter and spirit and rising above the summit of the holiest heights, leave behind them all reflections and echoes of God, all the language of heaven, to enter into the darkness wherein he dwelleth, as the Scripture says, who is above all.” (Dion. De mystica theolog. c. i. §. 3.)

The city of Rome celebrates the feast of St. Bartholomew to-morrow, as do also the Greeks who commemorate on the 25th of August a translation of the Apostle’s relics. It is owing, in fact, to the various translations of his holy body and to the difficulty of ascertaining the date of his martyrdom that different days have been adopted for his feast by different churches, both in the East and in the West. The 24lh of this month, consecrated by the use of most of the Latin churches, is the day assigned in the most ancient martyrologies, including that of St. Jerome. In the 13th century, Innocent III, having been consulted as to the divergence, answered that local custom was to be observed. (Decretal. lib. iii. xlvi, c. 2. Consilium)

The Church gives us the following notice of the Apostle of Armenia.

The Apostle Bartholomew was a native of Galilee. It fell to his lot to preach the Gospel in hither India; and he announced to those nations the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of St. Matthew. But after converting many souls to Jesus Christ in that province and undergoing much labour and suffering he went into Eastern Armenia.

Here he converted to the Christian faith the king Polymius and his queen and twelve cities. This caused the pagan priests of that nation to be exceedingly jealous of him, and they stirred up Astyages the brother of king Polymius against the Apostle, so that he commanded him to be flayed alive and finally beheaded. In this cruel martyrdom he gave up his soul to God.

His body was buried at Albanapolis, the town of Eastern Armenia where he was martyred; but it was afterwards taken to the island of Lispari, and thence to Beneventum. Finally it was translated to Rome by the Emperor Otho III. and placed on the island of the Tiber in a Church dedicated to God under his invocation. His feast is kept at Rome on the 8th of the Kalends of September and during the eight following days that Basilica is muoh frequented by the faithful.

On this day of the feast, O holy Apostle, the Church prays for grace to love what thou didst believe and to preach what thou didst teach. (Collect of the day.) Not that the Bride of the Son of God could ever fail either in faith or love; but she knows only too well that, though her Head is ever in the light, and her heart ever united to the Spouse in the Holy Spirit who sanctifies her, nevertheless her several members, the particular churches of which she is composed, may detach themselves from their centre of life and wander away in darkness. O thou who didst choose our West as the place of thy rest; thou whose precious relics Rome glories in possessing, bring back to Peter the nations thou didst evangelize; fulfill the now reviving hopes of universal union; second the efforts made by the Vicar of the Man-God to gather again under the shepherd’s crook those scattered flocks whose pastures have become parched by schism. May thine own Armenia be the first to complete a return which she began long ago: may she trust the Mother-Church and no more follow the sowers of discord. All being reunited, may we together enjoy the treasures of our concordant traditions, and go to God, even at the cost of being despoiled of all things, by the course so grand and yet so simple taught us by thy example and by thy sublime theology.


Mass Propers for the Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle

August 24th

Introitus – Ps 138:17.Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortatus est principatus eórum. Dómine, probásti me et cognovísti me: tu cognovisti sessiónem meam et resurrectionem meam.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen
Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortatus est principatus eórum.
Introit – Ps 138:17, 1-2.To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened. O Lord, You have probed me and You know me; You know when I sit and when I stand.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.
Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui huius diei venerándam sanctámque lætítiam in beáti Apóstoli tui Bartholomaei festivitáte tribuísti: da Ecclésiæ tuæ, quaesumus; et amáre quod crédidit, et prædicáre quod dócuit.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.  R. Amen.
Let us pray.Almighty, eternal God, Who bestowed on us the devout and holy joy of this day to celebrate the feast of Your blessed Apostle Bartholomew, grant unto Your Church, we beseech You, both to love what he believed and to preach what he taught.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Léctio Epístolæ beáti Pauli Apóstoli ad Corínthios – 1 Cor 12:27-31

Fratres: Vos estis corpus Christi et membra de membro. Et quosdam quidem pósuit Deus in Ecclésia primum apóstolos, secúndo prophetas, tertio doctores, deinde virtútes, exinde grátias curationum, opitulatiónes, gubernatiónes, genera linguarum, interpretatiónes sermonum. Numquid omnes apóstoli? numquid omnes prophétæ? numquid omnes doctóres? numquid omnes virtútes? numquid omnes grátiam habent curationum? numquid omnes linguis loquúntur? numquid omnes interpretántur? Æmulámini autem charísmata melióra. R. Deo gratias
Lesson from the first letter of St Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians – 1 Cor. 12:27-31

Brethren: You are the body of Christ, member for member. And God indeed has placed some in the Church, first Apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers; after that miracles, then gifts of healing, services of help, power of administration, and the speaking of various tongues. Are all Apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have the gift of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? Yet strive after the greater gifts. R. Thanks be to God.

Graduale – Ps 44:17; 44:18Constítues eos príncipes super omnem terram: mémores erunt nóminis tui, Dómine.
V. Pro patribus tuis nati sunt tibi fílii: proptérea pópuli confitebúntur tibi. Allelúia, allelúia.
V. Te gloriósus Apostolórum chorus laudat, Dómine. Allelúia.
Gradual – Ps 44:17-18You shall make them princes through all the land; they shall remember Your name, O Lord.
V. The place of your fathers your sons shall have; therefore shall nations praise You. Alleluia, alleluia.
V. The glorious choir of the Apostles praises You, O Lord. Alleluia.
sancti Evangélii secúndum Lucam.
R. Gloria tibi Domine!
Luc 6:12-19

In illo témpore: Exiit Iesus in montem oráre, et erat pernóctans in oratióne Dei. Et cum dies factus esset, vocavit discípulos suos, et elégit duódecim ex ipsis – quos et Apóstolos nominávit -: Simónem, quem cognominávit Petrum, et Andream fratrem eius, Iacóbum et Ioánnem, Philíppum et Bartholomaeum, Matthaeum et Thomam, Iacóbum Alphaei et Simónem, qui vocátur Zelótes, et Iudam Iacóbi, et Iudam Iscariótem, qui fuit próditor. Et descéndens cum illis, stetit in loco campéstri, et turba discipulórum eius, et multitúdo copiósa plebis ab omni Iudaea, et Ierúsalem, et marítima, et Tyri, et Sidónis, qui vénerant, ut audírent eum et sanaréntur a languóribus suis. Et, qui vexabántur a spirítibus immúndis, curabántur. Et omnis turba quærébat eum tángere: quia virtus de illo exíbat, et sanábat omnes.
R. Laus tibi, Christe!
S. Per Evangelica dicta, deleantur nostra delicta.

of the Holy Gospel according to Luke
R. Glory be to Thee, O Lord.
Luke 6:12-19

At that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when day broke, He summoned His disciples; and from these He chose twelve – whom He also named Apostles- Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alpheus, and Simon called the Zealot; Jude the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who turned traitor. And coming down with them, He took His stand on a level stretch, with a crowd of His disciples, and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to listen to Him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd were trying to touch Him, for power went forth from Him and healed all.
R. Praise be to Thee, O Christ.
S. By the words of the Gospel may our sins be blotted out.
Offertorium – Ps 138:17Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortátus est principátus eórum. Offertory – Ps 138:17To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.
Beáti Apóstoli tui Bartholomaei sollémnia recenséntes, quaesumus, Dómine: ut eius auxílio tua benefícia capiámus, pro quo tibi laudis hóstias immolámus.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.
We beseech You, O Lord, that we who keep the feast of Your blessed Apostle Bartholomew, may, by his help, obtain Your blessings, since we offer You this sacrifice of praise in his honor.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.
Prefatio de ApostolisVere dignum et iustum est, æquum et salutáre: Te, Dómine, supplíciter exoráre, ut gregem tuum, Pastor ætérne, non déseras: sed per beátos Apóstolos tuos contínua protectióne custódias. Ut iísdem rectóribus gubernétur, quos óperis tui vicários eídem contulísti præésse pastóres. Et ídeo cum Angelis et Archángelis, cum Thronis et Dominatiónibus cumque omni milítia coeléstis exércitus hymnum glóriæ tuæ cánimus, sine fine dicéntes: Preface of the ApostlesIt it truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, to entreat Thee humbly, O Lord, that Thou wouldst not desert Thy flock, O everlasting Shepherd, but, through Thy blessed Apostles, wouldst keep it under Thy constant protection; that it may be governed by those same rulers, whom as vicars of Thy work, Thou didst set over it to be its pastors. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:
Communio  – Matth 19:28Vos, qui secúti estis me, sedébitis super sedes, iudicántes duódecim tribus Israël, dicit Dóminus. Communion – Matt 19:28You who have followed Me shall sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, says the Lord.
Sumptum, Dómine, pignus redemptiónis ætérnæ: sit nobis, quaesumus; interveniénte beáto Bartholomaeo Apóstolo tuo, vitæ præséntis auxílium páriter et futúræ.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.
Let us pray.We have received, O Lord, the pledge of everlasting redemption; may it, by the intercession of blessed Bartholomew, Your Apostle, be our help both now and in the life to come.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.


Regem Apostolórum Dóminum, Veníte adorémus.


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