‘There are many of the Saints of whom it may be said that we know very little more than just their names. Of St Bartholomew we know even less, because we are not even sure that this really was his name. Some scholars think that he may have been the same Apostle whom St John, in the first chapter of his gospel, calls Nathanael, and who was introduced to Jesus by Philip in the very first days of our Lord’s ministry. But this is not much more than a guess, and so, perhaps, we may be inclined to wonder why someone of whom so little is known that we are not even sure who he really was, ever came to have a place in the Calendar of Saints and be commemorated by many thousands of Christian people on this day every year for so many centuries.
This suggests a thought which is well worth pondering. It is given to very few of us to leave behind a name which will appear in the history books of later generations. Most of us are just ordinary folk, destined neither for fame nor, let us hope, for infamy… [but] though there may never be a monument erected in our honour and our names may be forgotten in a comparatively short time, yet there are memorials more enduring than brass or stone; memorials that live and breathe in the lives that we have touched, either for good or ill on our journey down the years.
‘[A]lthough we know nothing of his life, or even who he really was, I like to think of St Bartholomew not as a particular person but rather as a type and representative, the Patron Saint, so to speak, of all those unknown, unremembered people to whose quiet influence and good example we owe all that is finest and best in our own characters. They are ordinary folk for the most part; but they too are the saints of God, even though no churches are dedicated to their names and they are not included in the Calendar of Saints. And, in the words of a favourite hymn, “They lived not only in ages past, there are hundreds of thousands still.”’
Harry N. Hancock
O Almighty and everlasting God, who didst give to thine Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word: grant, we beseech thee, unto thy Church; to love that Word which he believed, and both to preach and to receive the same; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon