Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and is usually identified with Nathanael (alternatively spelled Nathaniel), who appears in the Gospel according to John as being introduced to Christ by Philip, who would also become an Apostle, John 1:43-51 He is also identified as "Nathanael of Cana in Galilee" in John 21:2.
Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History (5:10) states that after the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. Other traditions record him as serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, and Lycaonia.
Along with his fellow apostle Jude Thaddeus, Bartholomew is reputed to have brought Christianity to Armenia in the 1st century. Thus, both saints are considered the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
He is said to have been martyred in Albanopolis in Armenia. According to one account, he was beheaded, but a more popular tradition holds that he was flayed alive and crucified, head downward. He is said to have converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity. Astyages, Polymius' brother, consequently ordered Bartholomew's execution which tradition says was by being flayed alive to take off his skin.
The 13th century Saint Bartholomew Monastery was a prominent Armenian monastery constructed at the site of the martyrdom of Apostle Bartholomew in the Vaspurakan Province of Greater Armenia (now in southeastern Turkey).
According to the Synaxarium of the Coptic Orthodox Church, his martyrdom is commemorated on the 1st day of the Coptic Calendar (1st day of the month of "Thout"), which currently falls on September 11 (corresponding to August 29 in the Gregorian Calendar). His feast is June 11 in Eastern Christianity, and August 24 in both forms of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
Bones supposed to be of St Bartholomew are in Rome in the church of San Bartolomeo all’Insola, which is dedicated to all Christian martyrs. The island in the River Tiber where the church is has a traditional association with Asclepius, son of Apollo and god of healing, and there is a hospital on the island. We have St Bart’s hospital in England also.
The bones reached Rome by a roundabout route, reputed to include being thrown into the sea in a lead coffin somewhere in Turkey, and arrived on the volcanic island of Lipari. They were dispersed by a Saracen raid and then recovered by a monk following a vision, which asked him to send them to Benevento in southern Italy. From there the Emperor Otto ordered them to be sent to Rome in the tenth century. However the Bishop of Benevento sent an arm bone to Edward the Confessor, who gave it to Canterbury. Perhaps this is why many churches here are dedicated to St Bartholomew. However, the Ingoldsby church was dedicated to St Andrew until 1861 and the reason for the re-dedication is not known.
St Bartholomew by Albrecht Dürer
He is shown with the knife used to flay him and the Gospel of St Matthew he took to India