Q: In the Liturgy of the Hours there are a couple of saints’ feasts or “memorials” that have a very full treatment (antiphons, readings, etc.) in the “Proper of the Saints.” St. Lawrence, St. Agnes, St. Martin of Tours are examples of these. On the other hand St. Matthew, alone among the gospel writers, does not get that treatment. I imagine Sts. Agnes and Lawrence have particular importance to the Roman church from the earliest times, but there must be others who would also have that distinction. The three seem like they has particular popularity—but there are other saints with equal popularity or with equally widespread following (I think). Any idea how this happened?
A: You are basically correct that the antiquity and popularity of certain saints brought them a fuller treatment in the liturgy of the hours than others received. This probably has to do with a development of prayers for certain days before the calendar reached its current focus on ranking saints’ days. Like anyone else, the Liturgy of the Hours hates to throw out things that have been in possession for a long time, so it tends to keep antiphons, even if it creates the impression of unequal treatment. Even though Matthew’s office does not include a full range of specific antiphons as others do, his day is still treated as a feast, equal with other feasts on the calendar.