09 February 2013

St. Bartholomew skinned alive

Christian tradition has three stories about Bartholomew's death: "One speaks of his being kidnapped, beaten unconscious, and cast into the sea to drown. Another account states that he was crucified upside down, and another says that he was skinned alive and beheaded in Albac or Albanopolis", near Ba┼čkale, Turkey. The account of Bartholomew being skinned alive is the most represented in works of art, and consequently Bartholomew is often shown with a large knife, holding his own skin (as in Michelangelo's Last Judgment [below]), or both. Bartholomew is also the patron saint of tanners.

Sculpture by Marco d’Agrate, 1562 (Duomo cathedral, Milan-Italy).  Image from detail-detail-detail via The Oddment Emporium.

8 comments:

  1. There was a recent PBS special on Chatsworth House (used for Pemberley in the 2005 adaptation of _Pride and Prejudice_).

    The chapel there currently features this depiction of St. Bartholomew: http://www.chatsworth.org/art-and-archives/contemporary-art-at-chatsworth/sculpture/st-bartholomew-exquisite-pain

    Visitors' reactions were, unsurprisingly, mixed.

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    Replies
    1. "I added the scissors because I thought Edward Scissorhands was in a similarly tragic yet difficult position" :.)

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  2. As a Catholic I have always loved the choices for some saints patronage. It shows that people in history have at times had a pretty perverse sense of humor.

    My favorite example is the patron saint of cooking... St. Lawrence of Rome who was martyred by being cooked to death on a gridiron.

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  3. On a gridiron? They had football in ancient Rome?

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    Replies
    1. Why else do you think the SuperBowl number is always written in Roman numerals?

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  4. Christianity has a sick relationship with the human body. Is there any other religion that has so many beheadings, flayings, crucifixtions and other mutilations?

    ::shudder::

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    Replies
    1. Has there ever been a religion where its adherents have been so often butchered? Is there another religion today that is more widely persecuted to the death?

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  5. ah the crusades, knights who loved the smell of burning non-christians...the point being, just about every religion has had its moment as persecutor or persecutee. will we never learn?!

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