St. Matthew via jnshaumerer on Flickr licensed under cc 2.0
Today is the feast day of St. Matthew- the first gospel writer. St. Matthew (also known as Levi) was the son of Alphaeus and worked as a tax collector. He was reviled for his work since tax collectors worked for Rome and were known for cheating the people and profiting from the collections. This is probably why his shield displays three purses - three for the trinity and then of course the purses represent money collection.
It is St. Matthew who had the dinner for Jesus with the Pharisees and other sinners, for whom Jesus said, "I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners."
The Gospel of Matthew was written in Aramaic- the Jewish language at the time, and was written for a Jewish audience. After the ascension, Mathew is said to have gone to Ethiopia where he was beheaded.
In Christian Art, Matthew is usually depicted with the winged man or angel.
Several interesting items about St. Matthew:
In the Orthodox Church, tradition says that St. Matthew refused to die even after several attempts. He was first placed upside down and lit on fire, then sunk in a coffin in the sea overnight. The ruler of Ethiopia, who tried to kill Matthew, apologized to the apostle and converted to Christianity.