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FEAST - A Saint for the Day (September 21): St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist


John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>


medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>


Wed, 21 Sep 2016 06:58:00 +0000





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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Matthew, also known as Levi (compare Mt 9:9 with Mk 2:14 and Lk 5:27), occurs in all four of the New Testament lists of the Twelve Apostles.  Traditionally the author of the First Gospel, he is reported by Eusebius to have preached to the Hebrews.  A legend popular in the West in the central and later Middle Ages and enshrined in the _Legenda aurea_ gives him various exploits in Ethiopia.  Among the places where Matthew is said to have died are Ethiopia, Persia, and Pontus.  Here's an English-language translation of his Vita in the _Legenda aurea_:


Matthew's later tenth-century Translatio (versions: BHL 5693 and 5694, 5693b and 5694b; seemingly written by a monk of Salerno who had some knowledge of Brittany and who ascribed part of his composite work to an imagined Paulinus, bishop of Legio [now Saint-Pol-de-Léon]) tells us that Breton sailors brought the apostle's body to Armorica in the time of Valentinian III (r. 425-455) during the reign there of a king Solomon (seemingly inspired by the ninth-century duke/king of this name).  Solomon was murdered, whereupon Valentinian sent a mighty fleet to destroy the Breton kingdom.  Having achieved its ends, the Roman invasion force returned with Matthew's remains.

Still according to the Translatio, those remains were then stolen and wound up in Lucania, where they were given a pious burial in a newly constructed church; over time the latter became ruinous.  In 954 the same remains were discovered still reposing therein near Paestum in what was then the newly established principality of Salerno.  Housed briefly in the cathedral of today's Capaccio (SA), Matthew's relics were soon moved to Salerno itself on the order of its prince (Gisulf I), and were re-interred in that city's then cathedral.  Thus far the Translatio.  As all in Campania know, Matthew has been in Salerno ever since.

In 1076 the principality was conquered by Robert Guiscard and in the years that followed Salerno became in effect the capital of his now enlarged duchy of Apulia.  Amatus of Montecassino, writing at some point after 1080, tells a story in which Matthew appears in a vision to archbishop John III (d. 1057), then sleeping at the saint's tomb in the hopes of being cured of a painful illness, and declares to that pontiff both that he will be healed and that, after the death of the pope (St. Leo IX) who was then vainly opposing them, Normans would rule the land as God had ordained.  In 1085, under the auspices of archbishop Alfanus I and with Guiscard's active assistance, Salerno got a new cathedral (its present one), dedicated to Matthew and consecrated by the exiled pope St. Gregory VII.  Matthew (who could believe otherwise?) reposes there; so do Gregory and Alfanus.

In Latin-rite churches and in others whose sanctoral calendars have been influenced by those of the Roman Rite, 21. September is the feast day of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist.  In Byzantine-Rite churches his principal feast day falls on 16. November.

Herewith some period-pertinent images of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist (the "angel" shown with him in many of these images is his winged tetramorphic symbol; for an instance of the symbol without wings see item o, below):

a) as depicted in the very late fifth- or early sixth-century mosaics of the Cappella Arcivescovile (a.k.a. Cappella di Sant'Andrea) in Ravenna:


b) as depicted (second from top at right; above him, St. Andrew; below him, St. Paul) among the roundels of apostles framing the Theotokos and Christ Child in a sixth-century tapestry icon from Egypt in the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland (OH):


Detail view:


c) as depicted in a late sixth-century mosaic formerly in the apse of the church of the Panagia Kanakaria at Lythrankomi in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus and now in the Byzantine Museum in that part of Nicosia under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus:


d) as depicted in a full-page illumination in the earlier eighth-century Lindisfarne Gospels (ca. 715-720; London, BL, MS Cotton Nero D IV, fol. 25v):


e) as depicted in the mid-eighth-century Stockholm Codex Aureus (a.k.a. Codex Aureus of Canterbury; Stockholm, Kungliga Biblioteket, MS A. 135, fol. 9v):


f) as depicted in a full-page illumination in the late eighth-century Godescalc Gospels (betw. 781 and 783; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition latine 1203, fol. 1):


g) as depicted in a full-page illumination in the late eighth-or early ninth-century Coronation Gospels from Aachen (ca. 795-810; Vienna; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Weltliche Schatzkammer, Inv. Nr. XIII 18, fol. 15r):



h) as depicted in a full-page illumination in the earlier ninth-century Ebbo Gospels (ca. 816-841; Épernay, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 1, fol. 18v):



i) as depicted in the late ninth- or early tenth-century Athelstan Gospels (London, BL, MS Cotton Tiberius A II, fol. 24r):


j) as depicted in a full-page illumination in a late ninth- or early tenth-century Gospels from Landévennec (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Auct. D. 2. 16, fol.28v):


k) as depicted in the very late ninth- or very early tenth-century illuminations (ca. 900) in the later ninth-century Egmond Gospels (Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 1, fol. 17r):


Detail view:


l) as depicted in a full-page illumination in a later tenth- or earlier eleventh-century Codex Theodosianus (a Gospels lectionary from Constantinople) belonging to the Holy Monastery of the God-trodden Mount Sinai (ca. 976-1025; St. Catherine [So. Sinai], Holy Monastery of the God-trodden Mount Sinai, cod. gr. 204, fol. 8r):


m) as depicted in the earlier eleventh-century mosaics (restored between 1953 and 1962) in the narthex of the church of the Theotokos in the monastery of Hosios Loukas near Distomo in Phokis:


n) as depicted in a full-page illumination in an earlier eleventh-century Gospels from Constantinople (Paris, BnF, ms. Grec 64, fol. 9v):


o) as depicted in a full-page illumination in an eleventh-century copy of Beatus of Liébana's _Commentarius in Apocalypsin_ from the abbey of Saint-Sever (betw. 1028 and 1072; Paris, BnF, ms. Lat. 8878, fol. 1v):


p) as depicted in the mid-eleventh-century mosaics in the katholikon of the Nea Moni on Chios:


Detail view:


q) as portrayed in relief on a later eleventh-century ivory plaque of Rhenish origin in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London:


The plaque as a whole:


r) as depicted in a twelfth-century copy of the Gospel of Matthew with gloss (Châlons-en-Champagne, Bibliothèques de Châlons, Bibliothèque Pompidou, ms. 78 [86], fol. 1r):


s) as depicted in a full-page illumination an earlier twelfth-century Gospels from Agen or from the abbey of Moissac (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 254, fol. 10r):


t) as depicted in an earlier twelfth-century legendary from the abbey of Cîteaux (betw. 1101-1133; Dijon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 641, fol. 57r):


u) as twice depicted in full-page illuminations by the Kokkinobaphos Master in earlier to mid-twelfth-century Gospel manuscripts from Constantinople:

1) ca. 1126-1150; detached from Mt. Athos, Monastery of the Great Lavra, MS A44 and now in the Walters Art Gallery and Museum, Baltimore (fol. W.530.Er):


2) ca. 1126-1150; London, BL, Burney MS 19, fol. 1v:


v) as depicted (at left; at right, St. John the Theologian) in the mid-twelfth-century apse mosaic in the left aisle of Trieste's basilica cattedrale di San Giusto martire:


w) as depicted (at center; at left, St. Mark; at right, St. Peter) in the mid-twelfth-century apse mosaics (completed in 1148) of the basilica cattedrale della Trasfigurazione in Cefalù:


x) as depicted in a full-page illumination in a later twelfth-century Gospels of possible Mosan origin (ca. 1151-1200; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 E 17, fol. 11v):


y) as portrayed (at right; at left, St. Thomas the apostle) on a later twelfth-century gilt and enameled copper plaque of Mosan origin (ca. 1160) in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland (OH):


z) as portrayed (at right, healing the daughter of the Ethiopian king Eglippus) on a later twelfth-century capital (early 1170s) found at Nazareth in 1908 and now (except when traveling) in the Terra Sancta Museum in the Basilica of the Annunciation there:


Detail view:


aa) as portrayed in relief (at far right in this view, drinking from a cup) by Anselmo da Campione in his Last Supper panel on the later twelfth-century parapet (_pontile_; ca. 1170-1180) in the cattedrale di San Geminiano in Modena:


bb) as depicted in the later twelfth-century Last Judgment fresco (betw. 1176 and 1200) in the church of St. George in Staraya Ladoga:


cc) as portrayed in relief (at left; at center, St. Thomas the apostle; at right, St. Peter) on the late twelfth-century enameled copper reliquary châsse (Limousin origin) of Sts. Calminus and Namadia in the église abbatiale St.-Pierre et St.-Caprais in Mozac (Puy-de-Dôme):


dd) as portrayed (at center; at right, St. John the Evangelist) in a late twelfth-century jamb statue on the Galluspforte (the north portal; ca. 1180-1190) of the Münster in Basel:


ee) as depicted (martyrdom) in one of four panels of a full-page illumination in the late twelfth-century so-called Bible of Saint Bertin (ca. 1190-1200; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 5, fol. 26v, sc. 2B):


ff) as portrayed in relief on an earlier thirteenth-century enameled plaque (ca. 1220-1230) from the main altar of the then priory church of St. Michael at Grandmont (Haute-Vienne) and now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris:


gg) as portrayed in a statue on the earlier thirteenth-century Angel Pillar (ca. 1230) in the cathédrale Notre-Dame in Strasbourg:


hh) as depicted in a later thirteenth-century fresco (betw. 1260 and 1263) in the nave of the church of the Holy Apostles in the Patriarchate  of Peć at Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:


Detail view:


ii) as portrayed (second from left) in a silver gilt statuette on the later thirteenth-century copper gilt châsse of St. Remaclus (completed betw. 1263 and 1268) in the église Saint-Sébastien in Stavelot:


Detail view (zoomable image):


jj) as depicted by Cimabue in a later thirteenth-century fresco (ca. 1277-1280) in the upper church of the basilica di San Francesco in Assisi (in a vault field that collapsed as a result of the earthquake of 1997; restoration completed, 2007):


Detail view:


kk) as portrayed in a later thirteenth-century statue (ca. 1280) on a pillar in the inner choir of Köln's Hohe Domkirche Sankt Petrus und Maria:


ll) as depicted (at left, being called by Christ) in the late thirteenth-century Livre d'images de Madame Marie (ca. 1285-1290; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 69v):


mm) as depicted (at far left) by Duccio di Buoninsegna in his early fourteenth-century Maestà altarpiece (betw. 1308 and 1311) in the Museo del Opera del Duomo in Siena:


nn) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (ca. 1310-1320), often attributed to Giotto di Bondone, in the lower church of the basilica di San Francesco in Assisi:


oo) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. ca. 1312 and 1321/1322) in the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:


Detail view:


pp) as depicted (martyrdom) in an earlier fourteenth-century French-language legendary of Parisian origin with illuminations attributed to the Fauvel Master (ca. 1327; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 183, fol. 49r):


qq) as depicted (at left) by Bernardo Daddi in an earlier fourteenth-century triptych of the BVM with saints (1328) in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence:


rr) as depicted in a November calendar portrait in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) of the narthex in the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:


ss) as depicted in a later fourteenth-century panel painting (betw. 1357 and 1367) by Theodoric of Prague and workshop in the Holy Cross Chapel of Karlštejn Castle near Prague:


tt) as depicted in the later fourteenth-century frescoes (1360s and 1370s; restored in 1968-1970) in the church of St. Demetrius in Marko's Monastery at Markova Sušica:


uu) as depicted by Andrea Orcagna (Matthew as evangelist and as missionary in Ethiopia) in a later fourteenth-century triptych (ca. 1367; completed by Jacopo di Cione) in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence:


vv) as depicted by the Troyes Master in the late fourteenth-century Hours of Prigent de Coëtivy (ca. 1380-1400; Rennes, Bibliothèque de Rennes Métropole, ms. 1511, fol. 204v):


ww) as depicted in the late fourteenth-century frescoes (1389; restored in the early 1970s) in the monastery church of St. Andrew at Matka in Skopje's municipality of Karpoš:


Detail view:


xx) as depicted by Spinello Aretino in a late fourteenth-century triptych of the BVM and saints (1391) in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence:


yy) as portrayed in relief (third from left) on the late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century tomb of St. Wendelin in his basilica in Sankt Wendel:


zz) as depicted (bottom register, at far right) by Lorenzo Monaco in an early fifteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1407-1409; from his dismembered San Benedetto altarpiece) in the National Gallery in London (image greatly expandable):


aaa) as depicted (driving off two dragons in Ethiopia) in the early fifteenth-century Châteauroux Breviary (ca. 1414; Châteauroux, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2, fol. 337v):


bbb) as depicted in a full-page illumination in the earlier fifteenth-century Radoslav Gospel from Serbia (1428-1429; Saint Petersburg, National Library of Russia, ms. РНБ. F.I.591, fol. 1r):


ccc) as portrayed in relief by Donatello in an earlier fifteenth-century terracotta roundel (betw. 1428 and 1445) in the old sacristy of Florence's basilica di San Lorenzo:


ddd) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Francis of Assisi) by Giovanni di Paolo in an early fifteenth-century predella panel (ca. 1435), from a dismembered altarpiece, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York:


eee) as depicted (martyrdom) in the mid-fifteenth-century Prayer Book for Barbara von Cilly (1448; Vienna, ÖNB, cod. 1767, fol. 269v):


fff) as depicted in grisaille by Jean le Tavernier in the Gospel readings in the mid-fifteenth-century Hours of Philip of Burgundy (ca. 1451-1460; Use of Paris; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 2, fol. 213r):


ggg) as portrayed in a polychromed and gilt later fifteenth-century wooden statue from Brabant (ca. 1470) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York:


hhh) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Simon the Zealot) by Miguel Ximénez and workshop in a panel of his and Martín Bernad's late fifteenth-century altarpiece of the Holy Cross (completed, 1487) for the parish church of Blesa (Teruel) and now, after dismemberment, mostly in the Museo de Zaragoza:


iii) as depicted in a late fifteenth-century breviary for the Use of Besançon (before 1498; Besançon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 69, p. 772):




John Dillon


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