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.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October 27 -- Feast of Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza

Blessed Bartholomew
There are lots of ways that someone might get a bishop's crozier.  One could, for example, earn it by being an excellent priest and administrator.  Or one might have done a favor to a pope, a king, or a cardinal.  One might be a compromise candidate, agreeable to both factions in some dispute.  Or maybe one is a bulldog in some dispute, brought in to put an end to the controversy.  Maybe there's just flat-out simony involved, i.e. a bribe was paid for the appointment. 

Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza was a thirteenth century Dominican friar.  He came from the Braganca family -- a noble clan with enough resources to get him through the University of Padua.  He got his habit (the clothes of a monk) from Saint Dominic himself, which seems more prestigious now than it did then, I am sure.  Father Bart was a strong supporter of Pope Gregory IX and helped to start a military order of knights to keep the peace in Italy.  Since other Italian princes were jockeying for control of the peninsula, as were kings of France and Spain, Bart's support of the papacy was not without critics. 

These folks had a superbly humane way of neutralizing Bartholomew's influence in Italy.  They worked to get him appointed bishop of Nemonicum in Cyprus.  I'm sure it was a real job.  The fact that the first four letters of the name mean no one is probably a coincidence.  True, no one knows where this city was, but lots of cities are lost over time, right?  It probably wasn't  a very big city, so he probably didn't have to work really hard, but it did get him out of Italy and away from his pal the Pope. 

Saint Dominic at the National Basilica, Washington DC
Then the King of France led a Crusade and Bart was blessed to be Johnny in the neighborhood. He visited le Roi, who insisted that he had to visit him back in France when the war was over.  Bartholomew did visit, of course, and was rewarded by the gift of a thorn from Jesus' crown (from the Crucifixion).  That is definitely the sort of relic you don't leave in your habit when you're doing the laundry. 

Pope Alexander VI appointed him bishop of Vicenza, his hometown, which gave Bart a base in Italy again.  This didn't go down well with the anti-papal leaders of Vicenza, but no dramatic action was taken to depose him.  He was a scholar and administrator, a favorite of Popes, cardinals, and kings.  He never had to pay for an office; his talents and virtues commended him for offices.  But none of these things mattered in his first appointment to a bishopric, since that was really all about getting him out of town. 

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