Saint of the Day – 24 June – Saint Bartholomew of Farne OSB (Died 1193) Priest, Monk, Hermit – born in the 12th century at Whitby, Northumbria, England as Tostig and died on 1193 at Farne, England of natural causes.
Bartholomew was born early in the 12th century near Whitby. His parents, who were Scandinavian, gave him the Viking name of Tostig. But when his young friends laughed at him he changed it to the more acceptable Anglo-Norman name of William.
Apparently, as a young man, he was wild but then, after receiving visions of Christ and the apostles, he went to Norway to contemplate his life. There, he was Ordained Deacon and Priest. Many Priests in Norway were married but, when a certain Norseman tried to get William to marry his daughter, William fled back to England.
He worked as a Parish Priest for three years and then became a Monk at in the Benedictine Monastery at Durham, taking the name of Bartholomew. He had a further vision in which St Cuthbert (c 634 – 687) appeared to him and showed him the Island called the Inner Farne. Soon afterwards, he became a hermit there and lived on the Inner Farne for the remaining 42 years of his life, inhabiting St Cuthbert’s cell.
The mother-house at Durham, had not yet established the House of Farne as a regular daughter-house with two monks – that came later in 1255. However, when Bartholomew went, there was already a Monk there called Aelwin who found his new companion impossible and tried to irritate him into leaving. Bartholomew weathered this and it was Aelwin who left.
For the next 12 years Bartholomew was alone on the Island, then he was joined by the previous Prior of Durham, Thomas, who had been deposed after a row with the Bishop. The two Hermits did not get on very well at first, as Thomas was very clean and fastidious and Bartholomew was not. However, they eventually became friends and Bartholomew nursed Thomas through his last illness and death.
Bartholomew was very austere, wearing skins, sleeping leaning up against the rocks, living on bread from his own corn and milk from his own cow. He cultivated his own crops all the while singing psalms all round the Island in a ringing voice. He spent his nights in prayer and study of the Holy Scriptures. He was cheerful and friendly and had many visitors, including some of the rich and powerful whom he persuaded to change their sinful ways.
In his old age the monks of Lindisfarne cared for him as much as possible. He died in 1193 and was buried in his oratory on the Inner Fame. People said that miracles at his tomb, proved that he was a Saint and had reached the heavenly kingdom. Amen.