This colorful icon with its decorative border is from a 14th c. illuminated manuscript at Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. St. Matthew is sitting composing his Gospel (originally written in Aramaic). St. Matthew, along with St. James, was one of the two sons of Aphaeus who became two of the Twelve Apostles of Christ and spread His message over the world. St. Matthew, also known as Levi, was a hated tax-collector for the Romans, but left everything to follow Christ when called from the receipt of customs.
St. Matthew preached to the Parthians and Medes, and finally in Ethiopia, where he converted the wife and son of an Ethiopian prince, who then sought to kill St. Matthew. The prince sent out soldiers to capture him, but they were blinded by a Heavenly light and so were unable to touch him. The prince himself came out to capture him, but was blinded by the same light. St. Matthew healed him, but the hard-hearted prince still wished to kill him. After St. Matthew prayed, he went to God. Later this same prince was baptized Matthew and became a bishop and successor to St. Matthew, showing the power of long-suffering love.
The icon is a companion to St. John the Theologian’s (S65).
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