St. Matthew and the Angel
St. Matthew was one of the twelve apostles of Christ mentioned in the Gospels. He is noted as being a tax collector an occupation which even then wasn’t a very popular. Matthew was called by Christ to come and follow and so he did. He becomes a disciple, one of the twelve, and along with the others is given authority to bind and loose. He is at the resurrection, ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit. But then we lose sight of him except through various traditions and legends.
It is believed that he may have travelled into the east and Persia for a time. It is also thought that he travelled to Ethiopia (Asiatic Ethiopia which was south of the Caspian Sea in Persia) and this may be a possible location for his martyrdom as Matthew is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology; “S. Matthæi, qui in Æthiopia prædicans martyrium passus est”. The popular belief has him preaching in Judea for about fifteen years then to heading out into the east which would be consistent with the martyrdom.
Matthew is attributed with writing a gospel during his time in Judea and this sets him as one of the Four Evangelists, along with Mark, Luke and John. The symbol associated with Matthews Gospel is that of an angel or winged man. This can be seen in Iconography and art throughout the centuries. One claim concerning the symbol was that the first story from the gospel is about an Angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. Others that the winged man represents the humanity of Christ, because the gospel contains the genealogy of Christ. It may also signify the Jews as the people Matthew was writing to. The Gospel was claimed to be written by Matthew while in Judea and was reported as being written in Hebrew. The Gospel seems geared to speaking to the Jews in it’s terms and idioms, being careful to not offend by using terms like the Kingdom of Heaven as opposed to the term Kingdom of God which is used in the other Gospels. Modern scholars tend to believe that someone else wrote the gospel, most likely a Jewish Christian, but not the apostle.
The feast of St. Matthew is September 21st. He is the patron saint of: Accountants; bankers; bookkeepers; customs officers; security guards; stock brokers; tax collectors; Salerno, Italy.