Receiving the habit from St. Dominic himself, Bartholomew gave himself over to his formation so that he might grow faithful in religion. Immediately after his ordination, he was sent to Lombardy to preach against the heretics (Albigensians) who were leading others away from the true faith. He was so effective in this, that the Holy Father, Pope Gregory IX called him to Rome and appointed him Master of the Sacred Palace (the Papal Theologian), which is an office traditionally held by Dominicans, even to this day.
Albignesians/Cathars/Manicheans are heretics who believed wrongly in an evil dualism that all matter is evil and all spirit good. Their ultimate spiritual expression, by their religious “enlightened” leaders, is to starve oneself to death. They viewed the birth of children as an evil, capturing a pure “spirit” in an incarnate body. They despised marriage. Ultimately, they despised the Incarnation, The Real Presence, The Sacraments, in general, since this is God saying Creation is good, not evil.
However, it was their asceticism and dedication to their wrong principles that moved people to accept their heresy. Their poverty was held in contrast to the extravagant caravans of high Roman Church officials, as they traveled. Dominic knew in order to combat their wrong thinking in hearts and minds, Catholic preachers of the truth must be as ascetical and dedicated. Dominic is known by the quote, “Meet zeal with zeal!”
Even modern cases of this delusional, evil, and dangerous thinking can be found in the First World…
4/28/12, GENEVA — Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reports that a woman starved to death after embarking on a spiritual diet that required her to stop eating or drinking and live off sunlight alone.
The Zurich newspaper reported Wednesday that the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years.
Tages-Anzeiger says there have been similar cases of self-starvation in Germany, Britain and Australia.
The prosecutors’ office in the Swiss canton (state) of Aargau confirmed Wednesday that the woman died in January 2011 in the town of Wolfhalden in eastern Switzerland.
Because of the differing needs of the Church, the following Pope, Innocent IV, appointed him to become a bishop on the Island of Cyprus. Already having become a friend of St. Louis the King of France, Bl. Bartholomew renewed this friendship as St. Louis went through Cyprus on his way to Egypt during the Seventh Crusade (1248). This friendship led to St. Louis giving relics of the True Cross and a thorn from the Crown of Thorns to Bl. Bartholomew.
After his transfer to his native Vicenza, Bl. Bartholomew built the Church of the Crown to house these relics. Here he not only continued to preach the truths of the faith and free the local Church from the errors of the Manicheans, but he also established such a sense of peace that the people asked him to become their temporal ruler as well. He rightfully declined, but this shows the great virtue that he not only had but also that he instilled in his people.
May we turn to him for intercession when there is unrest and discord, and may he help us in times of need. His fratres still preach the truth today, and seek out heresy wherever it may exist.
O God, who madest Blessed Bartholomew, Thy Confessor and Bishop, wonderful in leading the enemies of the faith from the darkness of error to the light of truth, and in bringing back multitudes to peace and concord, grant, through his intercession, that Thy peace, which passeth all understanding, may keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee for ever and ever. Amen.