MATTHEW THE POOR, SAINT
An early-eighth-century holy man. Matthew is mentioned in the Arabic SYNAXARION of the Copts, at the day of his feast, 7 Kiyahk. The recension from Lower Egypt gives him a rather small place and puts him at Aswan instead of Asfun, but the recension from Upper Egypt accords him a much longer notice. Numerous Coptic fragments, belonging to three codices, have come down to us (Campagnano, 1978, pp. 223, 229, 233, and 234). He is mentioned also in the Life of ALEXANDER II (705-730; PO 5, pt. 1, p. 79). ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN speaks of him in several passages. Through confusion of the diacritical marks, he confuses ISNA with Ansina and Askit with Asfun.
According to the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS, Apa Matthew was a native of Asfun, but the Synaxarion makes him a native of Bishnay, a small village in the nome of Qus, now vanished. The History of the Patriarchs and Abu Salih say that he was a fisherman. He is also called an ANCHORITE, but Coptic fragments say that he founded a monastery in the name of Saint PACHOMIUS, without specifying the place. It seems that this was the present monastery of Matthew the Poor at Isna. It is called the Monastery of the Potter, but we cannot explain this name.
The History of the Patriarchs, the Synaxarion, and the Coptic fragments recount above all his miracles, but the personality of Matthew shines through them. He seems to have been very severe in making the law of God prevail. The miracles are interesting because they show the Christian mentality at this period.
- Campagnano, A. “Monaci egiziani fra V e VI secolo.” Vetera Christianorum 15 (1978):223-46.
- Winlock, H. E., and W. E. Crum. The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, pt. 1. New York, 1926.