Procter/Dominican Saints/Bl. Bartholomew of Cerverio
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John Procter, O.P.
Blessed Bartholomew of Cerverio, Martyr
IN the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Piedmont and other provinces of Northern Italy were overrun by heretics. The Order of Saint Dominic, true to its earliest traditions, sent forth a multitude of apostolic men to combat error and guard the faith in the infected regions, and many of them sealed their labours with their blood. The Convent of Savigliano alone produced four Inquisitors of the faith, namely, Blessed Peter Ruffia, Blessed Anthony Pavonio, Blessed Aimo Taparelli, and Blessed Bartholomew of Cerverio, who have all been raised to the altars of the Church, and three of whom received the martyr's crown.
Blessed Bartholomew, whose story we have now to tell, was born of noble parents at Savigliano about the year 1420, and at an early age entered the Dominican Order in the Convent of his native town. He was gifted with great talents and devoted himself with ardour to the pursuit of learning and sanctity. After having attained his Doctor's degree and taught in the University of Turin, he was elected Prior, an office which he held more than once, and in which he displayed considerable talent for business, as well as great zeal for the Divine worship.
Being made Inquisitor of the faith, he discharged the delicate and difficult duties of that office with the utmost prudence, patience, and intrepidity, to the great satisfaction of the faithful and the despair of the heretics. He knew that his life was in danger and kept himself in readiness for death. One day, having to go to Cerverio on business connected with his office, he prepared himself by making his confession, as though it were to be the last of his life, and said before his departure, "I am called Bartholomew of Cerverio and nevertheless I have never set foot in Cerverio. I am going thither to-day in quality of Inquisitor, and it is there I am to die." When he was within half-a-mile of his destination, five heretics, who had been lying in ambush, rushed upon him and his companions. The latter succeeded in effecting their escape, but Blessed Bartholomew made no attempt to defend himself and fell pierced with wounds. This martyrdom took place on April 21, 1466.
That same day, at sunset, the inhabitants of Savigliano beheld a brilliant meteor, resembling the sun, rising in the direction of Cerverio, its rays converging on the spot where the martyr had fallen. A tree sprang up shortly afterwards on this same spot, the leaves and branches of which were impressed with a cross. The sacred remains of Blessed Bartholomew were carried to the church at Cerverio, to await the arrival of the Friars from Savigliano. As the Brethren crossed the threshold, the holy body, which hitherto had not shed a drop of blood, began to pour it forth in abundance. The remains were removed to Savigliano, where they were honoured by many miracles. On the suppression of that Convent in the troublous times which followed the French Revolution, the inhabitants of Cerverio obtained leave for the removal of the precious relics to their parish church, where they still repose.
Blessed Bartholomew is specially invoked against thunder and lightning and hail. He was beatified by Pius IX.
O God, who didst make Blessed Bartholomew a glorious champion of the faith and didst raise him to the crown of martyrdom, grant, through his merits and intercession, that we may ever bear the cross and deserve to be partakers with him in Thy glory. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.