Saints of the Canon – Saint Matthew

portrait of Saint Matthew the Apostle being instructed by an angel, by Guido Reni, c.1635Saint Matthew, both Apostle and Evangelist, was a publican or tax-gatherer, whose calling was despised by the Jews, for the publicans were unjust, and worse still, unpatriotic. Matthew must have been an honest man. His immediate response to Our Lord’s call shows him as a generous and determined character:

“He saw a publican named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom, and he said to him: ‘Follow me.’ And leaving all, things, he rose up and followed him.” (Luke 5:27-28).

After his conversion he was called Matthew, meaning “the gift of God.”

Tradition holds that he preached in Arabia and Ethiopia.

It is believed that he was attacked and killed while saying Mass. We cherish that belief and like to picture Saint Matthew going on calmly with his Mass as the rabble, with much shouting, storm the altar.

Today his relics are honoured in the metropolitan church at Salerno, whose patron saint he is.

Saint Matthew is represented by an animal with a human face because he commences his Gospel by tracing the human descent of Christ. His object in writing his Gospel is to prove that the prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Who is therefore the Messiah.

– from The Saints of the Canon, by Monsignor John T. McMahon, M.A., Ph.D; Australian Catholic Truth Society, 1958