Saint Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles, and had Galilee as his homeland;
this is all that is known of him for certain according to the history
of the Gospels. Concerning his apostolic work, certain say that he
preached in Arabia and Persia, and especially in India, bringing to
them the Gospel written by Saint Matthew, which had been written originally
in Hebrew, and which was found there one hundred years later by Pantaenus,
formerly a stoic philosopher and later an illustrious teacher of the
Christian school in Alexandria (see Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., 5: 10).
Other accounts say that he went to Armenia. According to some, he ended
his life by being crucified, or by being flayed alive, in Albanopolis
(Urbanopolis) of Armenia. This also confirms an ancient tradition preserved
by the Armenians. According to some, Bartholomew and Nathanael are
the same person, because the Evangelists who mention Bartholomew do
not mention Nathanael; and John, who alone mentions Nathanael as one
of the Twelve, says nothing of Bartholomew. Indeed, Bartholomew is a patronymic, "son of Talmai," which means "bold, spirited" (see also Jesus of Navi 15:14; II Kings 3:3), and Nathanael could have had this
as a surname. According to the Synaxarion of the Menaion on April 22,
however, it is Simon the Zealot and Nathanael who are the same; the
Evangelists who mention Simon the Zealot (or "the Cananite") do not mention Nathanael.
Saint Barnabas, one of the Seventy, was from Cyprus, of the tribe of Levi, and
a fellow disciple with Paul under Gamaliel. He was called Joses, but was renamed
Barnabas, which means "son
of consolation," perhaps to distinguish him from the Joses called Barsabas and surnamed Justus
(Acts 1:23). Saint Barnabas had a field, which he sold and brought the money
to the Apostles (Acts 4:36-37). Before the conversion of Saul to Paul, it was
Barnabas who was the leader of the Seventy Apostles, the first in preaching and
chief spokesman. After Saul's vision on the road to Damascus, it was Barnabas
who joined him to the Apostles when the others, because of Saul's reputation
as a persecutor of the Church, still feared him (Acts 9:26-27); again it was
Saint Barnabas who conscripted Paul as a preacher, bringing him from Tarsus to
Antioch after the stoning of Stephen, to assist in spreading the Gospel (Acts
11:25-26). Saint Barnabas preached the Gospel in many places, traveled together
with Paul, and finally was stoned to death by the Jews in his native Cyprus.
During the reign of Zeno, in the year 478, his sacred relics were found, having
on his chest the Gospel according to Matthew written in Greek by Barnabas' own
hand. This Gospel was brought to Zeno. Because of this the Church of Cyprus received
the right of autonomy, and its archbishop was given the privilege, like the emperor,
of signing his decrees and encyclicals in vermilion.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone:
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls
forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion in the
To the Church thou hast appeared as a great daystar; with thy teachings as
thy rays and beams of awesome miracles, thou hast enlightened those praising
thee, the Lord's Apostle, O sacred Bartholomew.
To thy Lord, O Barnabas, thou wast a genuine servant; and among the Seventy
Apostles, thou wast the foremost; and with Paul, thou shonest brightly in thy
wise preaching, making known unto all men Christ Jesus, the Saviour. For this
cause, we celebrate thy divine memorial with hymns and spiritual songs.
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