Bartholomew, apostle – August 24th
St Bartholomew (Relics: Rome, Italy; Benevento, Italy; Lipari, Sicily; Frankfurt, Germany)
According to the Roman Martyrology St Bartholomew suffered martyrdom in the Roman province of Armenia. It is recorded that he was first skinned alive and then put to death by decapitation. Five centuries later and half-way across the Mediterranean his relics were found in Lipari, Sicily. Most likely they arrived here through normal means; however, a pious tradition contends that this transfer occurred miraculously. This tradition claims that the sarcophagus of St Bartholomew was thrown into the sea by infidels. It then floated upon the water until it finally and miraculously came to the shores of the tiny island of Lipari. Regardless, how the relics arrived they remained on this island until the middle of the 9th century. At this time they were transferred to Benevento, Italy and then in the latter part of the 10th century they were brought to Rome by the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto III, where they were interred in the church of San Bartolomeo all’Isola on Tiber Island. This final transfer, however, is contested by the city of Benevento which continues to claim possession of the true relics of St Bartholomew.
First Class Relics
San Bartolomeo all'Isola (St Bartholomew on the Island)
Piazza San Bartolomeo, Tiber Island
*Relics of St Bartholomew rest within the red porphyry basin that supports the main altar.
*Enshrined in each of the side altars are relics of recent martyrs from around the world.
*An arm of St Adalbert (d. 997) is currently enshrined in the chapel to the left of the main sanctuary. It rests within a little metal box placed under the altar of this chapel.
*This church also housed the relics of St Paulinus of Nola (d. 431) for about 1000 years until they were transferred to the Italian city of Nola in 1909.
Cattedrale di San Bartolomeo (St Bartholomew’s Cathedral)
Via del Concordato
Lipari, Sicily, Italy
*A relic of the thumb of St Bartholomew rests within a silver arm reliquary in this church. This relic is exposed for veneration during feast days of the saint.
Frankfurter Dom (Frankfurt Cathedral)
60313 Frankfurt, Germany
*The skull of St Bartholomew is venerated within this church. It rests within a Gothic reliquary located on the eastern wall of the right transept. Small wooden statues of Joachim, Cleopas, and Zebedee adorn the sides of this reliquary.
Basilica di San Bartolomeo (St Bartholomew’s Basilica)
Piazza Federico Torre
*As noted above the tradition in Benevento holds that the relics of St Bartholomew remain within this church. An exhibit near the front of the church portrays a recent analysis of these relics and provides support for this claim. Also a monument upon the side-wall recalls the 2001 declaration by St John Paul II which reopened the cult of St Bartholomew in this church.
*The relics of St Bartholomew rest within a porphyry urn below the main altar. An additional bone fragment is placed within a bust of the saint. Twice a year, on August 24th and October 25th, the city celebrates his feast.
CT1 2EH, Canterbury, United Kingdom
*In the 11th century an arm of St Bartholomew was gifted to this church. However, this relic does not exist here today.
*The body of St Anselm (d. 1109) originally rested in this church; however, with the closing of this monastery by the orders of King Henry VIII his relics were lost. Nevertheless, the memory of St Anselm continues within the chapel dedicated to him on the right side of the nave.
*For centuries this church also housed the tomb St Thomas Becket (d. 1170) until its destruction in 1538. Some of his relics, however, still exist throughout the world.
Churches of Honor in Rome
San Bartolomeo e Alessandro dei Bergamaschi
(Saints Bartholomew and Alexander of the People of Bergamo)
Via di Pietra 70, Piazza Colonna
*This church is off the Via del Corso near the Piazza Colonna. It is not open often. It is dedicated to St Bartholomew and St Alexander.