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Return of the Body of Saint Bartholomew the Glorious Apostle from Anastasiopolis to Lipari (25 August)

The Transfer of the Relics of the Apostle Bartholomew took place at the end of the sixth century. His apostolic activity and martyr’s end are remembered by the Church on June 11. The Apostle Bartholomew suffered for Christ in Armenian Albanus (now Baku) in the year 71, where his holy relics were. Numerous miracles occurred from the relics of the holy Apostle, and many of the unbelieving were converted to Christ. Under the emperor Anastasius (491-518) the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew were transferred into the newly constructed city of Anastasiopolis (or Dura) and remained there until the end of the sixth century.

When the city of Anastasiopolis was captured by the Persian emperor Chozroes, Christians took up the chest with the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew and fled with it to the shores of the Black Sea. Having overtaken them, pagan priests threw the chest with the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew into the sea. Four other chests containing the relics of the holy Martyrs Papian, Lucian, Gregory and Acacius were also thrown into the sea.

By the power of God the chests did not sink into the depths of the sea, but miraculously floated upon the waves and reached Italy. The chest with the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew came to land at the island of Lipari, and the remaining chests continued their journey and came to land at various places in Italy. The chest with the relics of the Martyr Papian halted at Sicily, the Martyr Lucian at Messina, the Martyr Gregory at Calabria, and the Martyr Acacius at Askalon.

The arrival of the relics of the holy Apostle Bartholomew was revealed to Bishop Agathon of the island of Lipari, who went with clergy to the shores of the sea, took the chest from the waters and solemnly transferred it to church.

Myrrh flowed from the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew, healing people of various illnesses. The holy relics remained in the church of the island of Lipari until the middle of the ninth century when the island was captured by pagans. Christian merchants took up the holy relics of the Apostle Bartholomew and transferred them to the city of Beneventum, near Naples, where they were received with great veneration and placed in the main church of the city.

On this day we commemorate the translation of the relics of St. Bartholomew, although his main feast is celebrated on June 11. When this great apostle was crucified in Albanopolis [Derbend] in Armenia, Christians removed his body and honorably buried it in a lead sarcophagus. When numerous miracles–especially healings of the sick–occurred over the grave of the apostle, the number of Christians visiting the grave increased, so the pagans took the coffin containing the relics of Bartholomew and threw it into the sea. They also threw four more coffins into the sea.

These contained the relics of four martyrs: Papian, Lucian, Gregory and Acacius. However, by God’s providence the coffins did not sink, but floated and were carried by the current: Acacius to the town of Askalon, Gregory to Calabria, Lucian to Messina, Papian to the other side of Sicily, and Bartholomew to the island of Lipara. By a miraculous revelation, Agathon, the Bishop of Lipara, foresaw the approach of Apostle Bartholomew’s relics. Accompanied by other clergy and the people, Agathon came to the seashore to receive the coffin with great joy. Immediately, many healings of the sick occurred over the relics of the holy apostle.

The relics were placed in the Church of St. Bartholomew on Lipara, and reposed there until the time of Theophilus the Iconoclast. In approximately 839 A.D., the Muslims threatened Lipara, and the relics of the apostle were translated to Benevento. Thus the Lord glorified His apostle by the miraculous grace bestowed upon him, both during his life and after his death.

Apolytikion of Apostle Bartholomew

Third Tone

O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

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