Today, 5 Jun 2012, is the memorial of Blessed Bartholomew Placido** of Recanati (a.k.a. Bartolomeus Placidus, Bartolomeo of Fermo), an Italian priest and religious leader of the 15th century. Even though the generally available information about him is foggy, it still shines through that he must have been an individual of great holiness and leadership.
Blessed Bartholomew Placido of Recanati was born around the year 1400 in Fermo. Both places are located near the central east coast of Italy. In that region there was religious movement called the ‘Apostolini’ or ‘Apostles of the Poor Life’ or ‘Orders of Friars Apostolini’. Information about this movement is scarce indeed, mostly because they joined up with the Congregation of St Barnabas or ‘Barnabites’ some 20 years after Bartholomew’s death. An impact in the region they made, because Bartholomew joined the Apostolini community in his home town in the parish of Santa Maria Piccola.
In 1432 Bartholomew moved to near by Recanati to found a new community of Apostolini at the church of St John, (San Giovanni)*. For that to happen the movement must have been growing and Bartholomew must have been fired with apostolic zeal. It seems reasonable to infer that he was successful because in 1452 he took on the role of spiritual leadership of the whole movement.
Sometime in early 1473 Bartholomew was called home to his eternal reward, and recognised as a person of great sanctity. Numerous miracles were reported at his tomb and carefully recorded. Over the centuries his relics were translated several times (ie moved from shrine to shrine). During the pontificate of Pope Pius VIII in the early 19th century, Bartholomew’s beatification was confirmed.
The greatest evidence for Bartholomew’s existence is a plaque dated 1474 which at one time must have been put over his tomb. It emphasises that the people recognised in him the spirit of the Apostles and that due to so many miracles at his grave, and so much money left as thanksgiving donations, that the authorities erected the plaque to venerate him publicly and enable the people to fulfill the vows they had made to honour him.
* The information says San Giovanni in Pertica. There is a Pertica in far northern Italy, whether the places are one and the same or whether there was a suburb of Recanati of that name, who knows? The northern Italy connection makes linking up with the Barnabites whose mother house is in Milan more plausible – on the other hand the sources imply he was buried in Recanati. Thus the ‘fog’.
** There is even more ‘fog’ about his name. At an Italian website www.chiostrosantaagostino.it/aggiornamenti.html there are links to information about the life of Blessed Placido Recanati. The trouble is that although some of the information fits with Bartholomew, much of it doesn’t, particularly a lifespan of c.1338-1398. With the French Napoleonic occupation in 1798 it is possible that documents were destroyed and the memories of two distinct saints merged into one.
How I wish there was less fog ! Because Blessed Bartholomew sounds like he led a life that would have been incredibly inspiring to have details about. Perhaps in years to come someone will research in the Vatican Archives and find the paperwork for the confirmation of the beatification and make it available in English for our edification and Blessed Bartholomew’s honour.
Blessed Bartholomew Placido of Recanati, pray for us.