Bartholomew, also called Nathanael, was one of Jesus' apostles and appears in the Synoptic Gospels with his Greek name, which comes from the Aramaic bar-Tolmay, "son of Tolmay" or "son of Ptolemy" (Mt 10:3). In the Gospel of John, on the other hand, he appears with a Hebrew name, Nathanael (gift from God) and tells us that he was from Cana (Jn 21:2).
But the best-known story is that of his encounter with Jesus. At first, he was skeptical when his friend Philip told him about Jesus of Nazareth and asked with great irony if anything good could have come out of the poor town of Nazareth. Philip did not try to convince him with words, but instead invited him to have his own personal encounter with Jesus. Bartholomew agreed and went looking for Jesus, but when he found him, it was Jesus who surprised him by telling him that before Philip had called him, it had been Jesus who had already known that Bartholomew was "a sincere and unfolding Israelite" (Jn 1:45-51).
Popular traditions say that Bartholomew went to preach the Word of God in various eastern regions, from Mesopotamia to India, where God accompanied his preaching with miracles and prodigious healings. He is represented with a book, a knife and even his own skin on his hands, since he would have been skinned alive for announcing the gospel of Jesus.