New Catholic Dictionary – Saint Matthew

portrait of Saint Matthew the Apostle being instructed by an angel, by Guido Reni, c.1635Derivation

  • Hebrew: Mattija, “gift of Iahveh”


Apostle and Evangelist. The Matthew mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 9), as called by Christ, is identical with Levi (Mark 2; Luke 5); hence it is concluded that he was known originally as Levi and that the name Matthew was given to him by Christ when he began his apostolate. A Galilean Jew by birth, the son of Alpheus, he was a publican by trade, and therefore despised by the Pharisees; he possessed some education and a knowledge of Greek. His name occurs several times in the New Testament (Luke 6; Mark 3; Acts 1); he witnessed the Resurrection; was present at the Ascension, and in the upper chamber in Jerusalem with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and his brethren (Acts 1). The accounts of the career of Matthew subsequent to the Ascension are legendary; he is said to have evangelized Asiatic Ethiopia, Persia, Macedonia, Syria, and the kingdom of the Parthians. There has been some disagreement over the place and manner of his death, but it is generally conceded that he was martyred. His relics were translated to the west and, according to a letter of Gregory VII addressed to the Bishop of Salerno, 1080, they were placed in the church of his name in that city, where they still remain. Matthew is usually symbolized as a winged man, probably because he begins his Gospel with the human genealogy of Christ. Patron of tax-gatherers and bankers. Emblems: purse and lance. Feast, 21 September.

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Matthew”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 November 2016. Web. 27 February 2021. <>