Blessed Bartholomew Cerveri
Carrying on the glorious tradition of death in the cause of truth. Blessed Bartholomew of Cerveri was the fourth Dominican inquisitor to win his crown in Piedmont, in the stronghold of thee Catharists, who had taken the lives of Peter of Verona, Peter of Ruffia, and Anthony of Pavonio.
Bartholomew was born at Savigliano, in 1420 , and, even in his early years, displayed precocious solemnity and piety. He entered the Order in the convent of his native town, and progressed rapidly in his studies. on May 8th , 1452, he distinguished he himself by obtaining the licentiate, the doctorate and master’s degree from the capital university of Turin; the only time in the history of the university that anyone had acquired three degrees in one day.
Bartholomew taught for a year at the university, and then he was made prior of the convent at Savigilano. In his short apostolate of 12 years, he converted many heretics and worked steadfastly to eradicate heresy. He was appointed inquisitor in Piedmont, which made it clear to him that a martyr’s death was marked out for him. Being a Dominican in Lombardy was a dangerous business, at best; too be appointed inquisitor meant the heretics were given a target for their hatred.
In many ways the murder of Bartholomew and his companions repeats the martyrdom of Peter of Verona. Bartholomew knew beforehand that he was to die, and he made a general confession before starting out on his last trip. He remarked to his confessor, “They will call me , Bartholomew of Cerverio, though I have never set foot there. Today I go there as a inquisitor and there I must die.” On the road entering Cerverio, he and his party were attacked by five heretics. His companions were wounded, but escaped. Bartholomew died, riddled with dagger wounds, before they could get help.
Some people of Savigliano saw a bright light in the sky over Cerverio and surmised what had happened. They went out and brought home the relics, marveling back, despite all the wounds, the martyr had not bled. Laying him down in the church of the Dominicans, they saw his wounds bleed, and the hastily rescued the blood for relics. He was buried n a Dominican Church of Savigliano, and , later, when the church was ruined by revolution, the relics were moved to the parish church.
A chapel was built at the sight of the martyrdom and richly decorated with narrative frescoes. Processions were made there several times a year by the people of Savigliano and Cerverio, invoking Bartholomew against thunder and hail especially. At The same place a fig tree was honored for many years for its connection with Capital Blessed Bartholomew; it was supposed to have sprung up at the time of the martyrdom, at the very place the martyr fell.
Died: Martyred in 1466
Beatified: Pope Pius IX beatified Bartholomew of Cerverio in 1853
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