This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24 -- Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Hermit

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Tostigs.
Bartholomew started life out with the name Tostig, a Saxon name.  That might have been a good name for someone born in Whitby two centuries earlier, but his Scandinavian parents obviously had been unaware that Earl Tostig, brother of King Harold the Last, was considered a tyrant and a traitor.  Tostig had governed Northumberland very badly, managing to overtax and neglect his people, while adding insult to their injury by outsourcing his personal security to Danes.  The people rightly rebelled against him, and Tostig's own brother Harold Godwinson backed them up.  Tostig fled and then attempted an invasion with Flemish forces.  Again he fled, this time to Scotland where he negotiated with the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada.  Together they invaded, and together they died in battle against Harold the True King of England.  Harold of course had to march his army the length of England to meet the invading forces of William the Tanner's bastard; they put an arrow through one of the Royal Eyes and then the Normans swarmed across the Channel.

Thus naming the poor kid Tostig in Northumberland is is kind of like an Iraqi family living in Kuwait naming their kid Saddam.  It is small wonder that as soon as he was old enough, little Tostig changed his name to William.  Good choice, Bill.  That's the way to curry favor with your Norman overlords.

Saint Cuthbert's Chapel -- Inner Farne Island
Little Willie ran away to avoid an arranged marriage, which was lucky for his intended bride since he wound-up being an ill-tempered son-of-a-Sven.  He tramped around Europe and became a priest in Norway.  Then he returned to England, where he joined the Benedictine monastery in Durham.  There, he ditched the name William (a Norman pretense anyway) and called himself Bartholomew.  While serving at the monastery, he (and every other monk) realized that he had an eremitical temperament, which is a nice way of saying that he belonged far away from other people.  Having a bit of a thing about Saint Cuthbert, he set himself up in that saint's old cell on Inner Farne Island, a blasted rock off the coast of Northumberland.  The island's other hermit, Aelwin, moved off Farne as soon as he got to know
Pet bird: puffin? 

Tostig William Bartholomew.  
Pet bird: Guillemot? 
Pet bird:  Arctic tern?
 Bartholomew lived for forty-two years on Farne.  He welcomed visitors and enjoyed showing off his pet bird.  He enjoyed fishing and always set a generous table for his guests.  However, he was still difficult to get along with.  If wealthy or privileged people visited, he gave them a ration about their money.  When a woman who had been a childhood friend visited, he told her women were not allowed in the chapel.  She tried to go in anyway and got knocked out (out the door and unconscious) by a whirlwind.  A monk named Thomas moved to Inner Farne, and they quarreled so often that Bartholomew actually moved back to Durham.  The Bishop, however, told him to grow up and go back to his cell, which is where he spent the remaining years of his life.  

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