Saint of the Day – 11 November – Saint Bartholomew of Rossano (c 970-c 1065) Basilian Monk, Abbot, Confessor, Spiritual disciple and friend of St Nilus (910-1005), Hymnist an highly skilled Calligrapher of sacred manuscripts – the art of calligraphy he had learned from his blessed guide and teacher, He is known as the “Second Founder,” of the Monastery of Grottaferrata founded by St Nilus. A copyist of many codices, Bartholomew is also considered the greatest hymnographer of the 11th century. Born in c 970 in Rossano, Calabria, Italy and died on 11 November c1065 at Grottaferrata Abbey, Frascati, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Bartholomew of Grottaferrata, Bartholomew the Younger, Bartolomeo il Giovane.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In the Monastery of Crypta-Ferrata, near Frascati, the holy Abbot Bartholomew, companion of the blessed Saint Nilus, whose life he wrote.”
Bartholomew was the son of a noble Greek immigrant family originally from Constantinople. He was Baptised with the name of Basilio and showed much interest in religious life from an early age. At the age of seven he was entrusted to the Monks of the Monastery of San Giovanni Calibita, where he received such a profound education, that he surpassed his contemporaries
After five years he went to Vallelucio, near Monte Cassion, where he became the disciple of St Nilus of Rossano and a Monk at the Monastery at Grottaferrata in Fracati, which St Nilus had founded. The Monks celebrated the Greek Catholic Rite and kept the Basilian Rule. St Nilu’s life here: https://anastpaul.com/2020/09/26/saint-of-the-day-26-september-saint-nilus-the-younger-910-1005/
When St Nilus died in 1005, Bartholomew continued his works and became his fourth successor as Abbot – a position he held for forty years. During those 40 years, Bartholomew completed the construction of the Monastery and other ancillary works, which St Nilus had begun. This work turned the Monastery into a centre of education and manuscript copying and was so extensive, that he is often listed as the ” Second Founder.” Under his guidance and administration, the Monastery established a firm basis, surviving many troubles and political interference and thus, this foundation has allowed it to continue to this day.
He also took part in the Roman Synods of 1036 and 1044. He showed excellent diplomatic skills, managing to appease the differences between Duke Adenolfo and the Prince of Salerno. He was a close friend of the Pontiffs Benedict VIII and Benedict IX, managing to persuade the latter to abdicate, who then retired to the Monastery of Grottaferrata.
Bartholomew was described as having a very sympathetic and kind nature. He was unable to see anyone suffer in any manner, without striving to assist and extend comfort.
In the biography of the Saint, a miracle is narrated that underlines his love for the poor, which happened a few years after his death. The protagonist of this event is a Monk named Franco, who at the end of his life and unable to speak, was miraculously healed. He told his brothers that he was now ready for burial and that in his sleep, he had seen two doves, one white and one black, approach him and guiding him into a field full of light, where Bartholomew was standing surrounded by a multitude of poor people. Bartholomew gave them all bread, then entered a beautiful building in which there was a woman of indescribable beauty, that is, the Virgin Mary. Here Bartholomew, addressing the Monk Franco advising him to remind the remaining Monks of Grottaferrata, to be merciful towards the poor.
Bartholomew died around 1065, he was buried next to St Nilus in the Chapel named after the two of them in the Monastery. heir remains remained in Grottaferrata until 1300, after this date all traces of their relics disappeared.
Pope Pius XII on the Ninth Centenary of the Saint’s death, in a message to the Abbot of Grottaferrata, defined St Bartholomew “luminary of the Church and ornament of the Apostolic See.”
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