Friday, August 24, 2007
Today is the Feast of St Bartholomew. He was one of the Original Twelve and a favorite of my high school catechism teacher, Sr. Philomena. My boys like him because his was a particularly gruesome death. Boys are like that. We also like him because of all the Apostles, he's the sarcastic one. He's the one who asked, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"
According to tradition, his original name was Jesus so he changed it to Batholomew. That was pretty convenient for us. Just imagine how confusing Bible study would be if there were more than one guy with the name Jesus running around.
St Bartholomew is credited with bringing the Gospel to Armenia and founding the Church there. Not everyone was thrilled about that fact because he was dragged to Baku in Azerbaijan where he was skinned before being crucified upside down. The Catholic Church, with its typical sense of humor, made him the patron saint of tanners. According to Sr Philomena, all he had to do was renounce Christ and he would have been mercifully beheaded. He wouldn't, so they didn't. I don't know how long it took for him to die, but I'm willing to wager that skinned is not a quick way to go.
I remember the good sister challenging one of my Evangelical Protestant classmates with the question, "So you say you are a Christian and that you love God...are you willing to be skinned alive for Him? Because Christianity is more than hand-clapping, pretty songs and shouting 'Amen!' and going to a weekly Bible class. It's saying 'I would rather be skinned alive than renounce my God.'" Amen, sister...I think I'm there, but I pray no one ever puts it to that kind of test.