Learn to love as Christ does

Christ has commanded us to love Him above all else and to love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12: 29-31). Because we are sinful people, striving for virtue, keeping these commands may prove to be more difficult than expected. 

Our eBook, Embracing Christ in Others, reflects on what we can learn from Nathanael’s response when He was going to encounter Christ for the first time and his saying: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) and examples of how we can learn to grow in the virtue of charity and love as Christ does. 

We hope you enjoy this resource and are inspired by it to embrace Christ in others, especially when it seems most difficult. 

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Who was Saint Bartholomew?

St. Bartholomew was chosen by Our Lord as one of his Twelve Apostles. Not much is known about him, except that he was likely of Hebrew descent, as his name is Hebrew.  After the Ascension it is thought that he may have evangelized the part of India around Mombai (Bombay), though opinions differ on this question. On the other hand, Armenian tradition firmly holds that together with St. Jude he brought the Gospel to Armenia and established Christianity, before being martyred there.

Are Bartholomew and Nathanael the same person? 

Through centuries, Nathanael and Bartholomew have been understood to be the same person. Among the reasons for this conclusion is that the account in John 1:43-51 of Philip bringing Nathanael to Jesus is similar to the accounts of other Apostles who became disciples of Christ. John likewise lists him among the Apostles, paired with his friend Philip, but never mentions Bartholomew (John 21:2). 

On the other hand, the Synoptic Gospels and Acts list Bartholomew, paired with Philip, but not Nathanael (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14, Acts 1:13). From this it seems that John has used his personal name, Nathanael, whereas the other accounts give his surname, Bar Tolmai, or Bartholomew. Tolmai, or Talmai, is likely an occupational name, meaning farmer.

“When they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” ― Acts 1:13–14

How did Saint Bartholomew become an Apostle?

Understanding Nathanael to be the same person as Bartholomew, we read about his encounter with Jesus in the Gospel of John 1:45-51.

Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

Where in the Gospels is Bartholomew mentioned?

One of the Twelve Apostles, St. Bartholomew is mentioned sixth in the Synoptic Gospel lists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14) and seventh in the list of Acts (1:13). Under the personal name Nathanael, he is likely also mentioned in John 1:43-51 and 21:2.

What was the relationship between Bartholomew and Jesus?

Being one of the Twelve, Bartholomew would have spent a great deal of time with the Lord during his three years of public ministry. During this time, he would have heard His preaching, had explained to him its profound meaning, as well as witnessed His many miracles. Chosen as an Apostle, Bartholomew received authority to preach, cure, drive out demons, but, most importantly, to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection. 

“Nathanael [Bartholomew] said to him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’” ― John 1:48–49

What did Jesus say about His encounter with Bartholomew?

Upon seeing Nathanael (Bartholomew) under a fig tree, Jesus’s first words about him were unusual: He called him a “true Israelite in whom there is no guile.” Bartholomew’s whole countenance changed. He had just pre-judged Jesus because Philip told him that he was from Nazareth. Once he had met Jesus, His being from Nazareth no longer mattered. Bartholomew was ready to profess that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and the King of Israel.

What was the relationship between St. Bartholomew and St. Philip?

According to the Gospel writers, Philip was an old friend of Nathanael Bar Tolmai (Bartholomew).  Philip was the one who introduced him to Christ, telling him that Jesus was He whom the prophets foretold, the promised One of God. The moment Jesus saw Bartholomew, He praised him, saying that there was no dishonesty in his heart. For his part, Bartholomew immediately believed in Jesus, for which the Lord told him that he would see great things because of his faith. 

What do Philip and Bartholomew teach us about knowing Christ? 

Speaking about this question, Pope Benedict XVI said,

Nathanael's reaction suggests another thought to us: in our relationship with Jesus we must not be satisfied with words alone. In his answer, Philip offers Nathanael a meaningful invitation:  "Come and see!" (John 1: 46). Our knowledge of Jesus needs above all a first-hand experience: someone else's testimony is of course important, for normally the whole of  our  Christian life begins with the proclamation handed  down  to  us  by  one  or  more  witnesses. (General Audience, 4 October 2006)

How did Saint Bartholomew die? 

The Catholic Encyclopedia states,

The manner of his death, said to have occurred at Albanopolis in Armenia, is equally uncertain; according to some, he was beheaded, according to others, flayed alive and crucified, head downward, by order of Astyages, for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia. On account of this latter legend, he is often represented in art (e.g. in Michelangelo's Last Judgment) as flayed and holding in his hand his own skin. His relics are thought by some to be preserved in the church of St. Bartholomew-in-the-Island, at Rome. His feast is celebrated on 24 August. An apocryphal gospel of Bartholomew existed in the early ages.

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“St. Bartholomew stands before us to tell us that attachment to Jesus can also be lived and witnessed without performing sensational deeds.” – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI 

What is Saint Bartholomew known for?

Bartholomew/Nathanael is most known for his saying, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

What is a good life lesson that St. Bartholomew teaches us?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI points out to us that, “St. Bartholomew stands before us to tell us that attachment to Jesus can also be lived and witnessed without performing sensational deeds.” 

From Bartholomew, we also learn not to prejudge other people. Remembering that Bartholomew has traditionally been identified with Nathanael, in the Gospel of John, when Philip tells Nathanael of “him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” Nathanael responded with “Can anything good come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46). We know, of course, that Jesus is goodness Himself and such a judgment was unjust. From this, we learn to always have humble hearts, asking the Lord to help us always see things the way He sees them. 

Videos About St. Bartholomew

What is Saint Bartholomew the patron saint of?

Bartholomew is said to be a patron saint of butchers, leatherworkers, bookkeepers and tanners.

How is Bartholomew depicted by Michelangelo in the Last Judgement?

Michelangelo depicted Saint Bartholomew in the famous scene of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel being flayed alive at his martyrdom. He is thus shown holding his own skin in his left hand. At the time, this drew a great deal of attention. However, it has become a very popular depiction of the saint. 

Where are Bartholomew’s relics venerated?

St. Bartholomew's relics are venerated in Rome in the Church dedicated to him on the Tiber Island, where they are said to have been brought by the German Emperor Otto III in the year 983.