Little is known of Saint Matthew, the Gospel writer, outside of what was recorded in the New Testament. Still, we can glean some very important facts about him and his relationship with Christ.
Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans. His job was to solicit taxes from his fellow Jews – a practice that did not necessarily endear him to his fellow Jewish brethren. Publicans, as they were known (or sinners, if you ask the pharisees their opinion), would often take a cut from the tax amount they were demanding. The Romans would have a set amount they wished to collect, and the tax collectors would take the rest. Naturally, rates were bigger than they needed to be. Publicans were therefore more well-off than quite a lot of their countrymen.
When Christ called Matthew to follow him, it was an important moment not only for Matthew, but for us as well. No matter what our sins were in our past, Christ calls us all to repentance. Matthew responded positively to Jesus’s calling and became a part of the very foundation of the Church. Because of his “yes” to Christ, he even gets to hold the very first place in the New Testament in terms of the Gospels.
St. Matthew is the patron of accountants, bankers, tax collectors, civil servants, perfumers, and Salerno, Italy.
There are many representations of Matthew and his various roles. He is often depicted with an angel or angels near him. Saint Matthew, ora pro nobis!
1. Saint Matthew and the Angel by Reni
2. The Inspiration of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio
3. This painted miniature in the Armenian Gospels
4. Saint Matthew by Rusconi
5. Saint Matthew and the Angel by Rembrandt
6. This stunning terracotta sculpture by Bernardi
7. The Calling of Saint Matthew by Brugghen
8. Saint Matthew and the Angel by Campi
9. Saint Matthew by Sytov
10. The Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio
11. The Calling of Saint Matthew by Juan de Pareja