Bartholomew was one of Jesus‘ disciples who, unlike the strong-willed Peter and skeptical Thomas, pretty much stayed in the background. Not much is known about Bartholomew’s life before and during Jesus’ ministry, and most of what we can glean about his life after the Lord’s death were based on the accounts of other writers. Passages that mention Bartholomew are too few (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; and Acts 1:13), but he was also associated with the disciple called Nathanael mentioned only in the Gospel of John (Bartholomew was never mentioned in the book of John).
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If Bartholomew and Nathanael were one and the same, then this disciple was born in Cana in the region of Galilee. Nathanael scoffed after Philip told him about Jesus of Nazareth for the first time, but changed his mind after Jesus demonstrated his power to him(John 1:43-51). The name “Bartholomew” was mentioned once again after the death and resurrection of Jesus in Acts 1:13 and what we know about his life post-resurrection can only be patched together from tradition.
Missionary to India and Armenia
According to Eusebius of Caesarea in the Ecclesiastical History, Bartholomew traveled to India and preached about Jesus to the people who lived in the northeast portion of the realm. He left a copy of the Gospel of Matthew in India and went on with Jude the Apostle to the Roman province of Armenia. The men gained a lot of converts for Christ in the region and even convinced the Armenian King Polymius to turn to Christianity. According to Movses of Khorenatsi in the History of Armenia, Bartholomew preached in the Ararat region but was later martyred at a place called Albacus around 68 AD by the order of King Sanatruces of Adiabene (Arbela). Before his death by crucifixion or decapitation, it was said that Bartholomew was also flayed alive. His feast day is held every August 24.
Picture By José de Ribera – http://www.nga.gov/fcgi-bin/tinfo_f?object=72037 http://admirersofbaroqueart.blogspot.com/2007_04_01_archive.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17344420
Eusebius, and G. A. Williamson. The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967.
Movses of Khorenatsi “Full Text of “The History of the Armenian People, from the Remotest times to the Present Day”” Accessed July 19, 2016. https://archive.org/stream/historyofarmenia00morg/historyofarmenia00morg_djvu.txt.
“The Book of Saints : A Dictionary of Servants of God Canonized by the Catholic Church :.” The Book of Saints : A Dictionary of Servants of God Canonized by the Catholic Church :. Accessed July 19, 2016. https://archive.org/stream/bookofsaintsdict00stau#page/39/mode/1up.