FEAST OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW, APOSTLE.
Tradition assigns to this Saint, martyrdom in one of its most appalling forms.
HE bore an agony whereof the name
Hath turned his fellows pale:--
But what if God should call us to the same,
Should call, and we should fail?
Nor earth nor sea could swallow up our shame,
Nor darkness draw a veil:
For he endured that agony whose name
Hath made his fellows quail.
The manner of his death, said to have occurred at Albanopolis in Armenia,
is equally uncertain; according to some, he was beheaded, according to
others, flayed alive and crucified, head downward, by order of Astyages,
for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia. On account of this latter legend, he is often represented in art (e.g. in Michelangelo's Last Judgment) as flayed and holding in his hand his own skin. His relics are thought by some to be preserved in the church of St. Bartholomew-in-the-Island, at Rome. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02313c.htm
Michelangelo's The Last Judgment created between 1536 and 1541. Saint Bartholomew is shown holding the knife of his martyrdom and his flayed skin. The face of the skin is recognizable as Michelangelo.