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Bartholomew MISSION

A second mission by another disciple of Jesus called Barthelomew is reported to have reached India.  


Mat 10:2 – 4

These are the names of the twelve apostles:
first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew;
James son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
 Philip and Bartholomew;

Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James son of Alphaeus,

and Thaddaeus;
Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.



The Catholic Encyclopedis gives the following details:

One of the Twelve Apostles, mentioned sixth in the three Gospel lists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14), and seventh in the list of Acts (1:13).

The name (Bartholomaios) means "son of Talmai" (or Tholmai) which was an ancient Hebrew name, …..It shows, at least, that Bartholomew was of Hebrew descent; it may have been his genuine proper name or simply added to distinguish him as the son of Talmai. Outside the instances referred to, no other mention of the name occurs in the New Testament.

Nothing further is known of him for certain. Many scholars, however, identify him with Nathaniel (John 1:45-51; 21:2). The reasons for this are that Bartholomew is not the proper name of the Apostle; that the name never occurs in the Fourth Gospel, while Nathaniel is not mentioned in the synoptics; that Bartholomew's name is coupled with Philip's in the lists of Matthew and Luke, and found next to it in Mark, which agrees well with the fact shown by St. John that Philip was an old friend of Nathaniel's and brought him to Jesus; that the call of Nathaniel, mentioned with the call of several Apostles, seems to mark him for the apostolate, especially since the rather full and beautiful narrative leads one to expect some important development; that Nathaniel was of Galilee where Jesus found most, if not all, of the Twelve; finally, that on the occasion of the appearance of the risen Savior on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, Nathaniel is found present, together with several Apostles who are named and two unnamed Disciples who were, almost certainly, likewise Apostles (the word "apostle" not occurring in the Fourth Gospel and "disciple" of Jesus ordinarily meaning Apostle) and so, presumably, was one of the Twelve.  ……

No mention of St. Bartholomew occurs in ecclesiastical literature before Eusebius, who mentions that Pantaenus, the master of Origen, while evangelizing India, was told that the Apostle had preached there before him and had given to his converts the Gospel of St. Matthew written in Hebrew, which was still treasured by the Church. "India" was a name covering a very wide area, including even Arabia Felix. Other traditions represent St. Bartholomew as preaching in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Armenia, Lycaonia, Phrygia, and on the shores of the Black Sea; one legend, it is interesting to note, identifies him with Nathaniel.

The manner of his death, said to have occurred at Albanopolis in Armenia, is equally uncertain; according to some, he was beheaded, according to others, flayed alive and crucified……


Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 263–339) and  Saint Jerome (331 – 420) speaks of a tradition of a  visit of Pantaenus to India in the second century. According to Eusebius, Pantaenus, “is said to have gone among the Indians, where a report is that he discovered the Gospel according to Mathew among some there who knew Christ, which had anticipated his arrival: Bartholomew, one of the Apostles, had preached to them and had left them the writings of Mathew in Hebrew letters, which writing they preserved until the afore-said time”

According to Saint Jerome  an Indian legation of traders came to Alexandria and requested Demetric, Bishop of Alexandria to  sent some scholars to India.   In India Pantaenus “ found that Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles, had preached the advent of Lord Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew, and on his return to Alexandria he brought this with him written in Hebrew characters..”

The disciples of Pantaneus  Clement, ( died 215 AD) the Greek theologian who took over the chair of the catechetical school of Alexandria, and  Origen Adamantius, (185–254 AD) both refers to India and speaks about “Indian Brahmans”, “gymnosophists”, and  “Sarmanane”  the “hermits” and “holy men of India” as they heard from Pantaneus. 

“Early in the 3rd century, St. Hippolytus, Bishop of Portus (cir 220 AD) also assigns the conversion pf India to the Apostle Barthelomew,  To Thomas he ascribes Persia and the countries of Central Asia, although he mentions Calamina, a city of India as the place where Thomas suffered death.” (The Indian empire: its people, history, and products By Sir William Wilson Hunter)

Saint Ambrose (339 -397 AD) says: “And when the hearts of the people of his neighbours sufficed not to him to receive his seed, he (St. Bartholomew ) through-pierced like in fleeing in to the last countries of the lands of India, and entered in to the temple where there was great company of sick people without number”

Theodore (759-820 AD asserts:  “The blessed apostle Bartholomew preached first in Licaonia, and after in India, and at the last in Alban, a city of great Armenia, and there he was first flayed and afterward his head smitten off, and there he was buried.

As such we have no basis in assuming that these people has mistaken India for other parts of the world as some suggest.  


Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Christianity  By Suresh K. Sharma

“For the early christianization of North India we do not possess any actual vestiges as we have for that of South India. The South India claim to the apostolate of St. Thomas is supported by two monuments: the community ot St. Thomas Christians with their living tradition; and the tomb of Mylapore. which is definitely identified as the burial place of St. Thomas ai least from the 14th century onwards. ……

St. Bartholomew the Apostle and India  

Two ancient testimonies about the alleged apostolate of St. Bartholomew in India are those of Eusebius of Caesarea (early 4th century) and of St. Jerome (late 4th century). Both of these writers refer to this tradition while speaking about the reported visit of Pantaenus of India in the second century. According to Eusebius, Pantaenus "is said to have gone among the Indians, where a report is that he discovered the Gospel according to Matthew among some there who knew Christ, which had anticipated his arrival; Bartholomew, one of the Apostles, had preached to them and had left them the writings of Matthew in Hebrew letters, which writing they preserved until the afore-said time...."St. Jerome would have that Demetrius. Bishop of Alexandria, sent to him India, at the request of legates of that nation. In India Pantaenus "found that Bartholomew, one of the twelve Apostles, had preached the advent of Lord Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew, and on his return to Alexandria he brought this with him written in Hebrew characters..." Eusebius appears to be not quite sure of the reported fact; Jerome is more forthright.

Previously the consensus of opinion among scholars was against the apostolate of St. Bartholomew in India. Beginning with the Bollandist; Fr. Stiltingus. S.J.. a few have supported his Indian apostolate. But the large majority are still sceptical about it. Their main argument is that the India of Eusebius and Jerome should be in fact Ethiopia of Arabia Felix. Two recent studies, one by Fr. Perumalil and the other by Dr. Moraes. have attempted to show that this argument is untenable. They hold that the Bombay region on the Konkan coast, a region which Just have been known after the ancient town Kalyan, was the field of Bartholomew's missionary activities, and his martyrdom. The town of Kalyan. situated as it is at the north-east end of the Thana Greek, was an ancient port and it is supposed to be the "Kalliana", the traveller Cosmas Indicopleustes visited in the 6th century as he reports in his Christian Typography.

According to Pseudo-Sophronius (7th century) St. Bartholomew preached to the "Indian who are called Happy", and according t( the Greek tradition the Apostle went to "India Felix". The word Kalyun means "fclix" or "happy", and it is argued that the Kalyan region came to he known to the foreign writers "India Felix" and its inhabitants. Indians "called the happy". Fr. Perumalil interprets the "India Citerior" of Hicronymian Martyrology as western India, and the "India" of the Pass/o Bartholmei as the Maratha country.

Now for the Indian apostolate of St. Bartholomew there is no Indian tradition as we have one for St. Thomas. This absence, Dr. Moraes would explain, is due to the fact that the history of the Christians of Bartholomew got intermingled with that of the Thomas Christian who came under the control of the Persian Church. And in the tradition of this Church Bartholomew was associated with Armenia and not with India. Fr. Perumalil. however, thinks that the Bartholomew Christians continued as a separate community till the coming of the Portuguese and then got merged with the Christians of Bombay.

Legends of St. Bartholomew  Connecting Bombay and Mangalore in India
By Jesuvera

In their work, "The land called South Kanara" (2000, Image flex Publishers), William Pais and Vincent Mendonca add more background to the Kalyanpur-Barkur claims:

"Christianity has been long established in
South Kanara and its adherents are more numerous here, than any other district of India. It is certain that, foreign Christian merchants were visiting the coastal town of Kanara and during that period of commerce some priests also might have accompanied them for evangelical work. According to tradition Kanara had its first missionary the Apostle St. Barthelomew, who landed on the shores of river Swarna at Colombianor Colombo village an ancient maritime port adjacent to Kallianpur, stayed there to preach. He was popularly called Bethel and so the origin of the place Barkur..."

The 1981 Milagrian Charles E.G.Lewis has this to say:

"It can be said that it was the knowledge of that early Christianity in Kallianpur that prompted and urged the Portuguese Hierarchy to establish again the Church in Kallianpur when it did in 1678, or they must have found clues or traces of it when they arrived here. The Church at Kallianpur which was rebuilt in 1806, by the Goan priests and which later was demolished in 1940, had icons of St. Thomas the Apostle and that of St. Bartholomew on its façade on either side of the main entrance evidently because of the tradition of St. Bartholomew in the place's. Msgr. Denis Jeromme D'Souza who built the present Church saw to it that the tradition was carried forward. In the main body of the Church where the twelve Apostles of Christ are honoured with their statues all round the walls that of St. Bartholomew is prominently placed at the head of the apostles, nearest to the sanctuary. Opposite to him is St. Paul the apostle of Gentiles and by his side is placed St.Thomas the Apostle of India. These realities speak volumes of un-written tradition"

Philostorgius ( 368 – 439 AD) was a Anomoean Church historian of the 4th and 5th centuries. Anomoeanism questioned the Trinitarian account of the relationship between God the Father and Christ and was considered a heresy by the Catholic Church, which adopted the term "homoousia" in the Nicene Creed.  He wrote a history of the Arian controversy titled History of the Church, of which only an epitome by Photius (Partriarch of Constantinople) survives as EPITOME OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF PHILOSTORGIUS, COMPILED BY PHOTIUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE.  In it  according to Philostorgius, the Christians in Central India who were converted by the preaching of St. Bartholomew, did not believe in the Trinity. They believed that the Son is not of the same substance with the Father just like what was taught by Arius of Alexandria.  He adds that Theophilus the Indian, who had embraced this opinion, came to them, and delivered it to them as a doctrine; and also that these Indians are now called Homeritae, instead of their old name of Sabaeans, which they received from the city of Saba, the chief city of the whole nation.

This will explain why a large group of Barthelomew Christians became Anomoeanists and later became part of the Hinduism.