Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Some Traditions on Saint Bartholomew's Day.

Saint Bartholomew.
Artist: Rene de Cramer.
"Copyright Brunelmar/Ghent/Belgium".
Used with Permission.

 24 August was The Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle - "Bartlemas", or, "Bartlemytide", if you prefer. Although not very much is known about the Apostle, in Mediaeval England his Feast Day was the occasion for various Summertime Festivities, most famously London's Bartholomew Fair.

For me, Bartholomew's Feast Day calls to mind the Anglo-Saxon Saint, Guthlac, who, fleeing the career of a soldier for the life of a Hermit [Editor: How many times have we heard this ? A Soldier see through the irrelevance of killing and Nationalism, and discovers God and The True Faith], arrived at his new home in the wild Lincolnshire Fens on Saint Bartholomew's Day, 699 A.D.

Thereafter, Guthlac had a special Devotion to Saint Bartholomew, who aided him in his struggle against the demons of his lonely Hermitage. In The Guthlac Roll, a series of illustrations of Guthlac's Life, produced at the end of the 12th-Century, and now in The British Library (Harley Roll Y.6), Saint Bartholomew is shown appearing to Guthlac in company with an Angel.

Saint Bartholomew's Chapel, Sandwich, Kent, England.
Text and Illustrations, unless stated otherwise, from: A CLERK OF OXFORD

At Sandwich, in Kent, England, there is a small Chapel Dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, and they keep their Patronal Feast Day by giving out much safer things than knives; buns and biscuits. The Tradition is that after a Service in the Chapel, in honour of Saint Bartholomew, children run around the Church (outside, one lap) and are given a currant bun for their efforts, while the adults are given a biscuit stamped with the seal of the hospital.

They call this The Bartlemas 'Bun Run', and it takes place on Saint Bartholomew's Day, unless that day falls on a week-end - as this year - in which case it takes place on the Monday or the Friday. I went on Friday, and it was a delightful occasion. As the chances of most of my Readers ever being in Sandwich on Bartlemas Day seem remote, I thought I'd share some photographs of the event with you.

The children gathered outside the Chapel to run. 
That's the Mayor in front of them.
The Mayor of Sandwich always wears a Black Robe, in mourning for one of his predecessors who was killed in an attack on the town by the French in 1457.
(You think I'm making this stuff up, don't you ?)

This Article is taken from, and can be read in full at, A CLERK OF OXFORD

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