St. Bartholomew, Apostle and a menu suggestion

I have an affection for today’s saint not only for the way in which he died (a way of being treated familiar to many priests of more traditional leaning) but also because my first ecclesiastical office was as rector of a small 700 year old church in Italy named for Sts. Peter and Bartholomew. Why it was named for that pair of saints is something lost in time, I fear.

Here is the Roman Martyrology entry for today’s saint, the Apostle Bartholomew:

Festum sancti Bartholomaei, Apostoli, qui idem ac Nathanael plerumque creditus, Canae Galilaeae ortus, apud Iordanem a Philippo ad Christum Iesum ductus est; postea Dominus ad se sequendum eum vocavit et Duodecim aggregavit; post Ascensionem Domini Evangelium in India ipse praedicasse traditur ibique martyrio coronatus esse.

You readers can tackle that for us.

St. Bartholomew is depicted in art either being flayed (his skin being peeled off his body while still alive) or holding a knife and sometimes his own skin. In the Sistine Chapel in Michelangelo’s Last Judgement you see the artist’s self-portrait in the face part of the skin which the Apostle is holding.

St. Augustine speaks about today’s Gospel reading which concerns Bartholomew and the meaning of the fig tree under which the future Apostle was sitting.

This passage might be a good point of reflection for somewhat loftier ecclesiastics.

It also returns us to our often encountered theme of Christ as Physician of the soul.

This is from Augustine’s Tractate on the Gospel of John 7 (on John 1:34-51 – emphasis and comments mine, but not the translation).

20. Jesus then saw this man [Nathaniel = Bartholomew?] in whom was no guile, and said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” Nathanael saith unto Him, “Whence knowest Thou me?” Jesus answered and said, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig (that is, under the fig-tree), ….

21. We must inquire whether this fig-tree signifies anything. Listen, my brethren. We find the fig-tree cursed because it had leaves only, and not fruit. In the beginning of the human race, when Adam and Eve had sinned, they made themselves girdles of fig leaves. Fig leaves then signify sins. Nathanael then was under the fig-tree, as it were under the shadow of death. The Lord saw him, he concerning whom it was said, “They that sat under the shadow of death, unto them hath light arisen.” What then was said to Nathanael? Thou sayest to me, O Nathanael, “Whence knowest thou me?” Even now thou speakest to me, because Philip called thee. He whom an apostle had already called, He perceived to belong to His Church. O thou Church, O thou Israel, in whom is no guile! if thou art the people, Israel, in whom is no guile, thou hast even now known Christ by His apostles, as Nathanael knew Christ by Philip. But His compassion beheld thee before thou knewest Him, when thou wert lying under sin. For did we first seek Christ, and not He seek us? Did we come sick to the Physician, and not the Physician to the sick? Was not that sheep lost, and did not the shepherd, leaving the ninety and nine in the wilderness, seek and find it, and joyfully carry it back on his shoulders? Was not that piece of money lost, and the woman lighted the lamp, and searched in the whole house until she found it? And when she had found it, “Rejoice with me,” she said to her neighbors, “for I have found the piece of money which I lost.” In like manner were we lost as the sheep, lost as the piece of money; and our Shepherd found the sheep, but sought the sheep; the woman found the piece of money, but sought the piece of money. What is the woman? The flesh of Christ. What is the lamp? “I have prepared a lamp for my Christ.” Therefore were we sought that we might be found; having been found, we speak. Let us not be proud, for before we were found we were lost, if we had not been sought. Let them then not say to us whom we love, and whom we desire to gain to the peace of the Catholic Church, “What do you wish with us? Why seek you us if we are sinners?” We seek you for this reason that you perish not: we seek you because we were sought; we wish to find you because we have been found.

[I wonder what Augustine would have thought about the public embarrassment and timidity of some Catholics today?]

22. When, then, Nathanael had said “Whence knowest Thou me?” the Lord said to him, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.” O thou Israel without guile, whosoever thou art O people living by faith, before I called thee by my apostles, when thou wast under the shadow of death, and thou sawest not me, I saw thee. The Lord then says to him, “Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, thou believest: thou shalt see a greater thing than these.” What is this, thou shalt see a greater thing than these? And He saith unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye shall see heaven open, and angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” Brethren, this is something greater than “under the fig-tree I saw thee.” For it is more that the Lord justified us when called than that He saw us lying under the shadow of death. For what profit would it have been to us if we had remained where He saw us? Should we not be lying there? What is this greater thing? When have we seen angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man?

I can’t think of a better way to honor the saint today’s than eating ficchi e prosciutto that is, figs with prosciutto, both for the image from the Gospel and also for the thinly sliced strips of raw meat, which is more than appropriate today, and wondrous to taste I must say.

If you can’t get figs for that prosciutto, try a melon such as cantaloupe.

Here is the Church in Rome where the body of the Apostle is found. San Bartolomeo is on the island in the Tiber River.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. MJ says:

    I’ve been to San Bartolomeo! The church is beautiful, and the tomb of the saint is really unlike any I’ve ever seen before. It’s very large and dark – perhaps made of a rich wood? I couldn’t get very close…they were moping the floor with something and I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked.

    Prosciutto is DE-LI-CIOUS!

  2. Patti Day says:

    I just bought a small Brown Turkey fig tree, but the dozen or so figs are far from ripe. I do have some fig preserves and prosciutto, so maybe I’ll make ‘Crostini Bartolomeo’. :)

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    We just had a major Fig Preserving Event because the figs here all got ripe at once. There are only so many you can eat at a time!
    I’ll have to get some prosciutto and give it a try.

  4. albinus1 says:

    If you can’t get figs for that prosciutto, try a melon such as cantaloupe.

    Mmm! When I was in Italy I always saw procciutto served with melone as an antipasto; I’ve never seen it served with figs, but now you’ve given me something else to look for next time I have a chance to get over there. Grazie!

  5. I have some home-made cantaloupe sorbet, and shall now eat it in honor of the Saint. According to my dictionary, canaloupe was grown at the Cantaluppi papal estates near Rome.

    St. Bartholomew, please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Faherty, whose funeral mass is this day.

  6. yatzer says:

    I can find figs and melon here, and enjoyed the melon with prosciutto when I was in Rome for a few days. The thing is, all the prosciutto I’ve found around here is slimy and just doesn’t taste very good.

  7. ghp95134 says:

    …I can’t think of a better way to honor the saint today’s than eating ficchi e prosciutto that is, figs with prosciutto, both for the image from the Gospel and also for the thinly sliced strips of raw meat, which is more than appropriate today, and wondrous to taste I must say….

    I’ll NEVER eat prosciutto again … ever!

    –Guy (of the thin-skin)

  8. PaterAugustinus says:

    “Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, whom many believe to be one and the same man as Nathanael. He was born in Cana of Galilee and was led to Jesus Christ by Phillip hard by the banks of the Jordan. Thereafter, the Lord called him to follow Him and grouped him together with the 12. After the Ascension of the Lord, the Tradition holds him to have preached the Gospel in India, and to have been crowned there with martyrdom.”

    I’ll admit to being unsure of the phrase “qui idem ac Nathanael plerumque creditus,” but I think I got it right. In the Orthodox Church, it is held pretty firmly that Bartholomew and Nathanael are the same person; I don’t know if this martyrology entry implies that there is some doubt about this in Catholicism. Perhaps there are well-founded reasons for that doubt, but in our Tradition it seems to be taken for granted. The senior monk at my last monastery was named in honor of the Apostle Bartholomew, and his friends would call him by either name.

  9. benedetta says:

    The Roman Martyrology entry is perfectly sizable for practicing the sound of the language by beginning learners

  10. Speravi says:

    It says he was martyred in India. I thought I recalled from Matins this morning that he returned to preach in Armenia after India and was martyred there…

  11. acroat says:

    Bartholomew-my father’s confirmation saint. He is the saint I am eternally grateful to for his intercession on his feast day in 2004!

  12. New Sister says:

    This is such a macabre and delightful part of our Catholic Identity – – talking about recipies to commemorate a saint’s martyrdom! “O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting?” – 1 Corinth.

  13. asperges says:

    “The feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, who is generally believed also to be Nathanael, a native of Cana in Galilee, at the Jordan he was led to Jesus Christ by Philip; later, the Lord called him as his follower adding him to the ranks of the Twelve. After the Lord’s Ascension, it is held that he preached the Gospel in India and there received the crown of martyrdom.”

    On the news of the infamous St Bartholomew’s Day massacre (1572) it is said that Philip of Spain laughed openly in public, the last time he was ever seen to do so.

  14. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Father forgive me, but the face of St. Bartholomew in the Last Judgement is not a portrait of Michelangelo. Several of Michelangelo’s contemporaries noted that the Apostle has a beard, but the face in the skin does not; none of them thought either face was the artist’s own. The first person to posit this theory was Francesco La Cava, who put the theory out in 1925, when the “Where’s Waldo” school of art history was all the rage. It’s kind of like “discovering” in 2360 A.D. that Han Solo is actually played by George Lucas.

  15. everett says:

    My 3 year old is a Nathaniel, and we’ll be celebrating his feast day tonight. Prosciutto’s not really his thing, so we’re celebrating with mac and cheese, his favorite. I’ll be sure to pass on the prosciutto recommendation to my wife however, who’s a huge fan.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    What a horrible way to die. The martyrs were given such graces to endure such pain. As to prosciutto, I usually serve it with honey-dew melon, a less strong taste than cantaloupe, and artichoke hearts marinated in balsamic vinegar and virgin olive oil, with a mild foccacia with rosemary or other herb topping. If I do not serve prosciutto, I would have anchovies on foccacia. As I am allergic to all melons, I can only look on as others enjoy. This plate has always been a “starter” for me, before Spaghetti alle Vongole, for example. However, I am not entertaining anymore for myself, since my son has left home. Bon Appetit, Father Z.

  17. pm125 says:

    [I wonder what Augustine would have thought about the public embarrassment and timidity of some Catholics today?]
    Maybe that they use one another as ‘fig leaves’ or that there are not enough fig trees around or that humility was replaced with a contagious social ‘dementia’.

    – or thin slices of Genoa salami and provolone wrapping a fresh wedge of tomato

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