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Bartholomew (d.1193) (DNB00)


BARTHOLOMEW, Saint (d. 1193), was a Northumbrian hermit of some celebrity, who flourished in the twelfth century. His life was most probably written by Galfrid, the author of the biography of St. Godric, and a monk of Bartholomew's own monastery of St. Mary at Durham. In any case, it professes to be written in the lifetime of the saint's contemporaries. According to this life, Bartholomew was born at Witeb or Whitby. His real name, we are told, was Tostius (Tostig?), which his parents changed to William to avoid the laughter of his playmates. After an early life of trifling and scurrility, a vision of Christ so far sobered him as to lead him to wander abroad among strange nations, till at last he found himself in Norway, which had so lately been christianised by the help of English missionaries. Here the bishop ordained him, first deacon, and then priest. After three years Bartholomew returned to England, and, having for some little time served in a Northumbrian church, joined the monks at Durham. Thence, in obedience to an apparition of St. Cuthbert, he went to Farne. On reaching Farne he found it already occupied by a monk named Ebwin, who with much reluctance withdrew in favour of Bartholomew. The new hermit's life was one of the strictest asceticism. The fame of his sanctity was soon spread abroad throughout the north. For all his guests he supplied food, and, though not eating himself, would enter into conversation with them over their meal. In 1162 his solitude was broken by the arrival of the prior Thomas, whose company was so little to Bartholomew's relish that he left the island and once more joined his old confraternity at Durham, till the united prayers of the brothers, the new prior, and the bishop, at last induced him to return. When, in about a year, Thomas died, Bartholomew was once more alone, and continued so till his death, which appears to have happened on St. John's Day in 1193. Round his death-bed were gathered many monks, especially from the Scotch abbey of Coldingham, whose brethren, we are told, were very dear to him, and whom he requested to bury him in the island where he had now spent more than forty-two years of his life, ‘for the place is holy.’ The date of St. Bartholomew's death may be considered as fairly certain. From incidental remarks in the contemporary life the Bollandist fathers have made the calculation that it cannot have been in any other year than 1182 or 1193, and this later date agrees very well with the words of the narrative. For we are told that Bartholomew commenced his hermit's life during the priorship of Laurence, and continued in this state for forty-two years and six months, till his death. As Laurence is admitted to have entered on his office in 1149, and to have relinquished it in 1154, he would have been ruling St. Mary's at the beginning of 1151, a time which will give us 24 June 1193 exactly as the date of Bartholomew's death.

[Acta Sanct. 24 June, 833, &c.; Dugdale's Monasticon, i. 230 (ed. 1817); Browne-Willis's History of Mitred Abbeys, i. 259; for names of the priors at Durham see also Monachus Dunelmensis and Galfrid de Coldingham, ap. Wharton's Anglia Sacra, 720, 721; Simeon of Durham (R. S.), pr. xlix and 169.]

T. A. A.