He was one of the twelve disciples and then it is claimed his bones were washed up on a beach in Lipara, an island off Sicily. He’d gone to India as an apostle. His holiness infuriated demons and the King decided he must go. So he was martyred. Decapitation or crucifixion you might expect, but Bartholomew it was said was skinned alive. That’s why he carries a skinning knife in our stained glass window. It’s also why tanners and others who worked with skins chose him as their patron Saint.
Miracles became associated with Bartholomew's grave, which is why his bones were dug up, wrapped up in lead and tossed into the Caspian Sea. That should have been that, but the lead coffin sailed off to Lipara to become a focus for pilgrimage. Pilgrimage to a shrine of Bartholomew became easier for the English when Canute’s wife, Emma, brought the relic of an arm to Canterbury. Some 165 ancient churches in England were dedicated to him and, certainly since 1622 local people have brought the prayer they are working on to St Bartholomew’s in Egdean.