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Saint Bartholomew


Bartholomew was an apostle whom Jesus appreciated for his lack of guile.  He was supposedly a missionary in India before his martyrdom in Armenia where he was flayed alive.  In The Golden Legend he was described in detail as having "black and crisped hair, his skin fair, his eyes wide, his nose even and straight, his beard thick and with a few grey hairs...."

Images of Bartholomew were relatively common in the 16th century when interest in anatomy led to a fascination with skin being detached from the body to learn what lay below.  In England his cult was particularly strong from the Middle Ages onwards as the 11th-century Queen Emma, Cnut's wife, gave Bartholomew's arm to Canterbury; this was considered a prestigious relic at the time.

Bartholomew is the patron saint of tanners and leather-workers and is shown in art holding the knife with which he was flayed.