Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist The first of the four evangelists Share Flipboard Email Print The Calling of Saint Matthew, c. 1530. Found in the collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collections. Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images Christianity Catholicism Saints Beliefs and Teachings Prayers Tips Worship Holy Days and Holidays Christianity Origins The Bible The New Testament The Old Testament Practical Tools for Christians Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Weddings Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Latter Day Saints View More By Scott P. Richert Catholicism Expert M.A., Political Theory, Catholic University of America B.A., Political Theory, Michigan State University Scott P. Richert is senior content network manager of Our Sunday Visitor. He has written about Catholicism for outlets including Humanitas and Catholic Answers Magazine. our editorial process Scott P. Richert Updated June 25, 2019 Considering that Saint Matthew is traditionally believed to have composed the Gospel that bears his name, surprisingly little is known about this important apostle and evangelist. He is mentioned only five times in the New Testament. Matthew 9:9 gives the account of his calling: "And when Jesus passed on from hence, he saw a man sitting in the custom house, named Matthew; and he saith to him: Follow me. And he rose up and followed him." From this, we know that Saint Matthew was a tax collector, and Christian tradition has always identified him with Levi, mentioned in Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27. Thus Matthew is thought to have been the name that Christ gave Levi at his calling. Quick Facts Feast Day: September 21 Type of Feast: Feast Readings: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; Psalm 19:2-3, 4-5; Matthew 9:9-13 (full text here) Dates: Unknown (Capernaum)-Unknown Birth Name: Levi Patron of: Accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, customs officers, money managers, stockbrokers, tax collectors The Life of Saint Matthew Matthew was a tax collector at Capernaum, which is traditionally designated as the place of his birth. Tax collectors were despised in the ancient world, especially among the Jews at the time of Christ, who saw the imposition of taxes as a mark of their occupation by the Romans. (Even though Matthew collected taxes for King Herod, a portion of those taxes would be passed on to the Romans.) Thus, after his calling, when Saint Matthew gave a feast in Christ's honor, the guests were drawn from among his friends—including fellow tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:10-13). The Pharisees objected to Christ eating with such people, to which Christ responded, "I am not come to call the just, but sinners," summing up the Christian message of salvation. The remaining references to Saint Matthew in the New Testament are in lists of the apostles, in which he is placed either seventh (Luke 6:15, Mark 3:18) or eighth (Matthew 10:3, Acts 1:13). Role in the Early Church After Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, Saint Matthew is said to have preached the Gospel to the Hebrews for as many as 15 years (during which time he wrote his Gospel in Aramaic), before heading east to continue his efforts at evangelization. By tradition, he, like all of the apostles with the exception of Saint John the Evangelist, was martyred, but accounts of his martyrdom varied widely. All place it somewhere in the East, but, as the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, "it is not known whether he was burned, stoned, or beheaded." Feast Days, East and West Because of the mystery surrounding Saint Matthew's martyrdom, his feast day is not consistent in the Western and Eastern Churches. In the West, his feast is celebrated on September 21; in the East, on November 16. The Symbols of Saint Matthew Traditional iconography often shows Saint Matthew with a money sack and account books, to signify his old life as a tax collector, and an angel above or behind him, to signify his new life as a messenger of Christ.