Bl. Bartholomew of Vicenza
The Story of Bl. Bartholomew of Vicenza
Bl. Bartholomew of Vicenza (1201-1270), also known as Bartholomew of Braganca or Breganza, was born to a noble family in Vicenza, Italy. While studying in Padua he entered the newly established Dominican Order as one of their first friars, receiving the habit from St. Dominic himself. Bartholomew quickly advanced to positions of prominence within the Order, becoming prior and then overseeing several convents. He was sent to preach against the heretics in Lombardy, and was so successful that in 1235 the Holy Father made him Master of the Sacred Palace (an office known as "The Pope's Theologian") a position which was first held by St. Dominic. In this role he also founded a military order of knights for the purpose of maintaining civil order and peace throughout Italy called the Order of the Knights of the Mother of God (or the Knights of St. Mary). He was later made bishop of Cyprus, and also served as papal legate and confessor to St. Louis King of France, who was then leading a crusade in the Holy Land. From this friendship Bartholomew received the gift of a relic of the True Cross and a thorn from the Crown of Thorns. When Bartholomew returned to his native Vicenza as the city's bishop he built a church to house the precious relics called the Church of the Holy Crown. Bl. Bartholomew of Vicenza was an effective mediator between the factions and feuds of his day, even converting the leader of a heretical party back to the Catholic faith.