Saint Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles, a native of Galilee, and generally supposed to be the same as Nathanael, who is mentioned by St. John among the first disciples of Christ. According to Eusebius and other ancient authors, he preached the gospel in the Indies, under which name they generally include not only India proper, but also Arabia and Persia. It is related that in the third century traces of Christianity were found in those countries, and that a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel in Hebrew was preserved by the natives, who had a tradition that St. Bartholomew left it there when he came among them to preach the faith. He afterward journeyed into Phrygia, met St. Philip at Hierapolis, and thence passed into Lycaonia. Beyond this we are told little of his life and travels, and even the meagre accounts which we have received are of doubtful authenticity. The place and manner of his death are equally uncertain. Modern Greek writers assert that he was crucified at Albanopolis; others that he was flayed alive. As we know that it was not unusual in some parts of the East to unite these two barbarous punishments, it is possible that both accounts may be true. The relics of this apostle have undergone many vicissitudes.
We hear of them at Dura in Mesopotamia, in the island of Lipari, and at Benevento. It is believed by Roman Catholics that they rest beneath the high altar in the church of St. Bartholomew at Rome. A gospel anciently attributed to St. Bartholomew was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I. A collection of writings also ascribed to him, but doubtless without reason, is known to have existed during the first four centuries of the Christian era, although no part of it now remains. His festival day in the Roman church is Aug. 24, and in the Greek June 11.