St. Matthew the Evangelist icon (1)
Orthodox icon of Saint Matthew, Matthias the Apostle and Evangelist.
Commemorated November 16.
The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew was one of the Twelve Apostles, and brother of the Apostle James Alphaeus. He was a publican, or tax-collector for Rome, in a time when the Jews were under the rule of the Roman Empire. He lived in the Galilean city of Capernaum. When Matthew heard the voice of Jesus Christ: Come, follow Me (Mt. 9:9), left everything and followed the Savior. Christ and His disciples did not refuse Matthew's invitation and they visited his house, where they shared table with the publican's friends and acquaintances. Like the host, they were also publicans and known sinners.
This event disturbed the pharisees and scribes a great deal. Pious Pharisees refused to marry into a family who had a tax collector as a member. Yet in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus notes that it was the tax collector rather than the prideful Pharisee who prayed an acceptable prayer, Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner and went home justified. Saint Matthew was a witness to the suffering, death, and Resurrection of the Savior, and of His glorious Ascension into Heaven. Having received the grace of the Holy Spirit, which descended upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, St Matthew preached in Palestine for several years.
At the request of the Jewish converts at Jerusalem, the holy Apostle Matthew wrote his Gospel describing the earthly life of the Savior, before leaving to preach the Gospel in faraway lands. Saint Matthew wrote in Aramaic, and then it was translated into Greek. The Aramaic text has not survived, but many of the linguistic and cultural-historical peculiarities of the Greek translation give indications of it. His Gospel manifests itself as a vivid proof that Jesus Christ is the Messiah foretold by the prophets, and that there would not be another (Mt. 11:3).
The holy Apostle brought the Gospel of Christ to Syria, Media, Persia, Parthia, and finishing his preaching in Ethiopia with a martyr's death. This land was inhabited by tribes of cannibals with primitive customs and beliefs. The holy Apostle Matthew converted some of the idol-worshippers to faith in Christ. He founded the Church and built a temple in the city of Mirmena, establishing there his companion Platon as bishop.
The apostle's symbol is an angel.
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