SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS
Saints Cyril (825-69) and Methodius (826-84) were brothers
born in Thessalonika, Greece. Cyril was sent to study in Constantinople
at an early age. After being ordained he held a position at the university.
Methodius became governor of one of the Slav colonies in Opsikion Province
and then later became a monk. In 861, Emperor Michael III sent both
brothers, who had been living in a monastery, to Russia to convert the
Khazars. After learning the Khazar language they converted many people.
After their return in 863, they were sent to convert the Marovians.
They were extremely successful because of their knowledge of the Slavonic
language. They invented an alphabet named Glagolithic, which was the
beginning of Slavonic literature, and translated liturgical books into
Slavonic. Their missionary work was hampered by the German clergy and
the German bishop of Passau who did not like their use of Slavonic in
church services, did not like that they were from Constantinople, and
refused to ordain their candidates for priesthood. Pope Nicholas I asked
them to return to Rome, but while they were traveling he passed away.
They were greeted instead by Pope Adrian II who received them warmly,
approved the use of the Slavonic language in the liturgy, and announced
that they were to be ordained bishops. Cyril died shortly after their
return to Rome on February 14. Methodius returned to Moravia a bishop.
At the request of the Princes of Moravia and Pannonia, the Pope formed
the archdiocese of Moravia and Pannonia, independent of the German hierarchy,
and made Methodius archbishop at Velehrad, Czechoslovakia. In 870, the
German King Louis and the German bishops imprisoned Methodius for two
years until he was released by order of Pope John VIII and forbidden
to use Slavonic in the liturgy. He was summoned to Rome in 878 for using
Slavonic in the liturgy. Pope John VIII was impressed by Methodius's
arguments that he again permitted the use of Slavonic in the liturgy.
He traveled to Constantinople to finish the translation of Scriptures
that he had begun with his brother Cyril. Throughout the remainder of
his life he continued to struggle with the Germans. He passed away on
April 6. Cyril and Methodius are called "Apostles of the Slavs."
The Universal Church Feast Day was established as February 14 by Pope
Leo XIII in 1880. The Eastern Church remembers and honors St. Cyril
on February 14, St. Methodius on April 6, and both SS. Cyril and Methodius
on May 11.
© 2002 SS. Cyril & Methodius Byzantine Catholic Church