Feast Day of St. Matthew: Unveiling the Mystery of the Apostle and Gospel Writer

Feast Day of St. Matthew: Unveiling the Mystery of the Apostle and Gospel Writer

On September 21, the Christian world commemorates the feast day of St. Matthew, also known as Levi, one of the apostles of Jesus and the reputed author of one of the four Gospels.

Despite the pivotal role his Gospel plays in the Church, St. Matthew's life remains shrouded in uncertainty.

Matthew's calling by Jesus is a well-documented tale. He was a Jewish tax collector for the Romans in Capernaum, a role that cast him as an outcast among his own people. However, when Jesus called upon Matthew to follow him, he willingly abandoned his tax collector's life to become a disciple of the Lord.

This calling stirred controversy among the religious authorities of the Jewish community, who questioned why Jesus would associate with tax collectors and sinners. In response, Jesus emphasized that he had come not for the righteous but for sinners.

Remarkably, the Gospels provide little further information about Matthew, except for his inclusion in the list of apostles. Beyond that, details about his life are obscured by inaccuracies and legends. However, historical sources suggest that he spent roughly fifteen years evangelizing in Asia.

Today, St. Matthew's purported earthly remains rest in the crypt beneath Salerno Cathedral in Italy. Above the altar, a bronze statue crafted by Michelangelo Naccherino in 1606 depicts St. Matthew writing his Gospel, guided by an angel offering an inkwell.

The crypt itself was completed by Archbishop Alfano I in 1081, while a renovation carried out in the early 17th century was overseen by architects Domenico and Giulio Cesare Fontana.

Legend has it that St. Matthew's intercession played a pivotal role in protecting Salerno from the feared pirate Ariadeno Barbarossa in 1544.

Devotees' prayers for a storm, answered by St. Matthew, diverted Barbarossa's Turkish fleet away from the city.
It's worth noting that Eastern Catholics and Orthodox churches celebrate St. Matthew on November 16, alongside St. Fulvianus, a prince who, according to some traditions, converted from paganism after Matthew's martyrdom.

Reflecting on St. Matthew's significance, Pope Benedict remarked in 2006 that Matthew's life embodies a paradox: those seemingly farthest from holiness can become models of God's mercy, offering glimpses of its transformative power in their own lives.

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