Icon of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Nathaniel) (Corfu, 1570) (Michael Damaskinos) – S59


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Egg Tempera


Byzantine Museum, Athens, Greece


Damaskinos, Michael




St. Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Holy Apostles chosen and sent by Christ to enlighten and convert the whole world.  The name Bartholomew is from the Aramaic “bar-Tolmay,” meaning “son of Tolmay [Ptolemy], ” or “son of the furrows,” or “ploughman.”  This name is mentioned in three of the Gospels, but in St. John’s Gospel, the same Apostle is called Nathanael, according to Christ, “in whom there is no guile” (John 1:47).  Bartholomew may therefore be a family name, not a first name.

St. Bartholomew was sent after Pentecost to preach the Gospel with the Apostle Philip first in Syria and Asia Minor, then in Lydia and Mysia, and then in Phrygia.  Together with the Apostle John they killed a great serpent in Hierapolis, Phrygia by their prayers.  After St. John left, they continued in Hierapolis, converted the wife of the governor, and then these two Apostles were crucified upside down, where St. Philip gave up his spirit.  St. Bartholomew was taken down alive from his cross, later preaching in India and in Armenia, where he finally died a martyr’s death in the Vaspurakan Province of Greater Armenia.