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Saint Matthew the Apostle

Saint Matthew the Apostle
  • Century: 1st Century
  • Patronage: Accountants, Bankers, Tax Collectors, Perfumes
  • Feast Day: September 21st

St. Matthew was a first century Galilean, born in Galilee, and was the son of Alpheus.  During the Roman occupation that began in 63 BC, Matthew collected taxes from the Hebrew people for Herod, tetrarch of Galilee.  His tax office was located in Capernaum.  Jews who became rich doing this, were despised and they were considered outcasts. 

Jesus called Matthew to be one of the Twelve Disciples.  After he was called to come with Jesus, Matthew invited Jesus into his home for a feast.  This really upset the Scribes and the Pharisees, criticizing Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners.  Jesus answered by saying, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”.  (Mark 2:17)  When Matthew is mentioned in the New Testament he is sometimes found paired with Thomas.  The New Testament records that as a disciple, he followed Jesus and was one of the witnesses to the Resurrection and the Ascension.  Afterwards they withdrew to the “Upper Room”.  St. Matthew remained in and about Jerusalem and proclaimed that Jesus was the promised Messiah.  

St. Matthew wrote the Gospel of St. Matthew in the New Testament.  Because Matthew was a tax collector he would have been literate in both Greek and Aramaic.  Greek was the language used in the market place.  He is called Levi, son of Alpheus in Mk 2:14 and Lk 5:27.   

Matthew is recognized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.  He was martyred for his faith, and his feast day is celebrated on September 21st.  His relics are preserved in the Salerno Cathedral in Italy.  He is depicted in art with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7.  Usually the one who is in the form of a winged man accompanies him.  His image in the paintings by Caravaggio in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome is the theme of “gatherer” because of his being an Apostle.  That is the image most noted by the Western Catholic Church. 

Practical Take Away

St. Matthew went from being someone who was despised, and hated as a Tax collector for Herod, to being a Saint.  He was called by Jesus to be one of the Twelve, and he accepted.  He knew that it would bring him a life of reward in the here after – as he would be with Jesus again in Heaven, even if it would cost him his life here on earth.  He was there for the Resurrection and witnessed the Ascension.  He was eventually martyred for the faith, but converted countless of thousands to Christianity in a short time period.  He died in 34 AD.  What are we willing to do to bring Jesus into the lives of those around us?  Are willing to lay down our lives just as St. Matthew did?  Nearly 2,000 years later, one can go to Rome and venerate his relics at the Salerno Cathedral in Italy.