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Bartholomew of Simeri, St.


Abbot and organizer of Basilian monasticism in southern Italy; b. Simeri, Calabria, Italy, mid-eleventh century; d. Rossano, Italy, Aug. 19, 1130. In his earliest youth, impelled by an urge to leave the world, Bartholomew became a disciple of the hermit Cyril. He built his first monastery in the mountains near rossano with the help of the distinguished Christodoulos, possibly a converted Saracen and later an emir of sicily, and also, through him, with the help of Count roger of sicily, brother of robert guiscard, and other Norman barons. This monastery of Santa Maria Odigitria (she who shows the way), built toward the close of the eleventh century and before the death of Roger in 1101, was later called the Patirion to honor the saintly founder (Πατήρ); it became an important center of basilian monasticism in Calabria and Sicily.

After 1104, having received a charter for his foundation from Count Roger II, Bartholomew was ordained by the bishop of Belcastro, and in 1105 he journeyed to Rome to obtain from Pope paschal ii confirmation of immunity for his monastery. There is some evidence that Bartholomew visited Constantinople to obtain gifts of icons, liturgical books, and sacred vessels from Emperor alexius i comnenus and Empress Irene, as well as from Basil Kalimeris, a high official of the empire. The latter, as patron of the monastery of St. Basil the Great on Mount athos, charged Bartholomew with the task of reforming that institution. After his return to Italy, Bartholomew founded a second monastery, San Salvatore de Messina, with 12 monks sent from Santa Maria of Rossano. His cult seems to have spread through the Basilian monasteries of southern Italy soon after his death.

Feast: Aug. 19.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctae Sedis Sept. 8:792826. l. brÉhier, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 6:968970. p. batiffol, "L'Archive du Saint-Sauveur de Messine," Revue des questions historiques 42 (1887) 555567; L'Abbaye de Rossano (Paris 1891) 110. m. scaduto, Il monachismo basiliano nella Sicilia medievale (Rome 1947).

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