FOURTH WINDOW ON WEST SIDE OF SANCTUARY
DEDICATED TO ST. MATTHEW
According to this window, Matthew is the author of the first gospel. It is highly unlikely that Matthew, the disciple, wrote the book. The gospel has simply been named after him.
Tradition tells us that, of course, Matthew, the tax collector, wrote the gospel. The events of his life after the death of Christ are uncertain. He is supposed to have written his Gospel in Judea, and then to have preached in Ethiopia, where he died.
On the bottom of the window, one finds a winged cherub. The cherub is the symbol of the gospel of Matthew and found everywhere in Christian Art. The angel is a reference to the human ancestry of Christ. The human likeness in the cherub points to Jesus’ humanity.
Matthew, at times, also appears with a winged man in reference to his detailed account of the Incarnation of Christ. He is also shown with a purse and a bag of money in other renditions reminding us of his early profession, or with a book or pen, as writer of the Gospel. Sometimes an angel holds his inkhorn. An axe, the instrument of his martyrdom, is also a common rendition.
One of my favorite paintings is one done by Caravaggio. There an angel whispers the words of the Gospel into Matthew’s ear so that the evangelist gets a perfect record of God’s word. So intense is Matthew that he kneels partially on a bench as he writes the message down.
Unfortunately, the words of God in the Bible, and the words of men and women are intermixed. Only the Holy Spirit can sort the two out and has to find willing hearts to receive the message as absolute truth.