Wednesday, August 24, 2016

St. Bartholomew's Day

Today, 24 August, is the great feast of the Apostle St. Bartholomew.

St. Bartholomew was one of the twelve Apostles, also known as Nathaniel, who makes his most memorable mark on the Gospels in this passage from that of St. John, in the first chapter: "1:44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip finds Nathanael and said to him: We have found him of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth. 46 And Nathanael said to him: Can anything of good come from Nazareth? Philip said to him: Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and he says of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. 48 Nathanael said to him: Whence do you know me? Jesus answered and said to him: Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. 49 Nathanael answered him and said: Rabbi: You are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said to him: Because I said unto you, I saw you under the fig tree, you believe: greater things than these shall you see. 51 And he said to him: Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

File:Jusepe de Ribera, The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, 1634.jpg
The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew by Jusepe de Ribera (+1652AD)

Tradition has the Apostle evangelizing in India before his ultimate martyrdom in Armenia, where St. Bartholomew was flayed alive for his Faith in Jesus Christ.  The images of St. Bartholomew are certainly memorable, as he is usually portrayed holding his own skin!  You can read a bit more about the saint here: Catholic Saint Info: St. Bartholomew

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Bartholomew

File:Roma-san bartolomeo all'isola.jpg
The Basilica of San Bartolomeo all'Isola in Rome, Italy.
["Roma-san bartolomeo all'isola". Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons]

Eventually, his relics made their way to Rome, where he is buried in the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all'Isola on Tiber Island.  This is, by the way, the titular Church is Rome of Cardinal George of Chicago, Illinois.  Here is the official website of that Roman Church: Chiesa di San Bartolomeo, Roma

The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre by the Huguenot, Dubois.

Also associated with this day is the tragic massacre of Huguenots in Paris, in 1572AD: the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.  This came during the tumultuous and bitter French Wars of Religion, which involved the Valois French crown, Catholic League, and Calvinist Huguenots all vying for political power in France.  Following the Peace of St. Germain in 1570, giving the Huguenots several cities, including La Rochelle, Catherine de Medici, mother of King Charles IX of France, sought to marry her daughter, Marguerite, to a leader of the Huguenots, Henry of Navarre [son of Antoine Bourbon & Jeanne of Navarre].  Henry of Navarre succeeded his own mother in June 1572, becoming king of Navarre, and on 18 August, he married Marguerite of Valois in Paris.  On 22 August, an attempt was made on the life of Admiral Coligny, another significant leader of the Huguenot party in Paris for the wedding, but it failed.  That caused the previously celebrating crowds in Paris to militarize.

Catherine de Medici, the king, and the royal council decided to strike first, fearing a Huguenot reprisal for the attempt.  On 24 August, the Feast of St. Bartholomew, men led by Henry, Duke of Guise (+1588AD), avenging the death of his father, Francis of Guise, assassinated Admiral Coligny in the street.  The king wanted to execute 30 Huguenot leaders, but the “it is the king’s command” explanation given to passers-by at the site of the Admiral's assassination gave the populace of the city the wrong idea that all Huguenots were to be attacked.  Folks went Huguenot hunting – and some 2,000 were massacred.  Henry of Navarre only survived by “converting” to Catholicism.  This violence rippled around France and sparked the Fourth War of Religion.  It would not be the last, either.  Of course, the lasting conversion of Henry of Navarre to Catholicism -- "Paris is worth a Mass" -- would ultimately secure peace in France.

For another account of the massacre, you can follow this link: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre

Live well!

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