It is not mere providence, that today’s feast of Saint Bartholomew (Nathanael), is also the anniversary of the 1562 Discalced Carmelite reform. Our Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus was very devoted to the apostle, as was lay sister Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew (hence why she chose her title to be in honor of him). I never knew much of Bartholomew, outside being one of the twelve of course, until I realized that Nathanael under the fig tree and Bartholomew were the same person. This apostle, introduced to Our Lord by Philip, is the only member of the twelve of noble birth.
Many do not know the full story of what happened under the fig tree; I usually mentally chuckle when all we hear in the Gospels, from that scene, is Nathanael saying: “truly Thou art the Son of the God” simply because Our Lord saw him under a tree. Even Our Lord “seems” amused at his declaration, because it honestly looks a little silly, does it not? But yet again, Anne Catherine Emmerich and her revelations from The Life of Jesus Christ, enlightened me and left me in tears with the FULL story. What happened under that fig tree was a true grace that was received in the heart of Nathanael. When I read the account, I did not yet know that Bartholomew and Nathanael were one and the same. When I made this discovery yesterday, on the vigil of his feast, I instantly knew why Our Holy Mother and Blessed Anne had a devotion to him; he seems to be a protector of Carmel in a very radical way.
I want to attach that encounter, shared between Our Lord and Nathanael, under the fig tree from Volume II of Anne Emmerich’s book:
Everyday I am falling more in love with celibacy and the apostles. When we read of their human struggles, their martyrdom and heroic courage to follow Christ and conquer temptations- how do I follow, you glorious apostles of Jesus and Mary? This was an encounter of the heart- ah! How different is the viewpoint of the heart! On the surface of the Gospel itself, we do not see this vivid conversion of Bartholomew, of what really happened under the fig tree. After celebrating such a glorious feast of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, I think it is too fitting that we see Nathanael’s pure heart, even during a temptation, a single look from Our Lord was enough to preserve that chastity.