On Cyril and Methodius
These two saints are very dear to my heart for two reasons. First of all, they are the Patrons of Europe, along with Benedict. Their contribution to the making of a Christian Europe is the stuff of legend. That they were brothers makes them special as well.
But, the second reason is that my ancestors on my father’s side are all from Bohemia and Moravia. We have personal connections with these areas of Europe where the brothers worked and prayed. Here is a significant section from OrthoWiki:
In 860, Emperor Michael III and Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, sent the brothers to the Khagan of the Khazars on a missionary expedition in an attempt to forestall the Khagan from embracing Judaism. The mission was unsuccessful as the Khagan chose Judaism for his people, but many people embraced Christianity. Upon their return, Constantine was appointed professor of philosophy in the university.The German clergy had used their liturgical language, Latin, as a measure to maintain their influence in Moravia and therefore were unhappy with the work of Constantine and Methodius, and they used this difference to attack the brothers. After laboring for about four years, the brothers were called by Nicholas I to appear in Rome to defend their work. The area in which they worked was within the jurisdiction of Rome. However, before their arrival, in 869 Nicholas died and was succeeded by Adrian II. After Adrian was convinced of the orthodoxy of the brothers, he approved their use of Slavonic in their church services and commended their work. He then consecrated Methodius bishop. Constantine took monastic vows in a Greek monastery in Rome. He was given the name Cyril, the name by which he is now commonly known. Cyril was not to return to Moravia as he died shortly thereafter. The date of Cyril’s death is uncertain, but appears to have been shortly after his consecration, both perhaps in February 869, with his death most probably on February 14.Adrian II reestablished the old diocese of Panonia, as the first Slavonic diocese of Moravia and Pannonia, independent of the Germans, at the request of the Slavic princes Rastislav, Svatopluk, and Kocel. Here Methodius was appointed to the new diocese as archbishop. However, on returning to Moravia in 870, King Louis and the German bishops summoned Methodius to a synod at Radisbon, where they deposed him and sent him to prison. After the Germans suffered military defeats in Moravia, John VIII freed him three years later and restored Methodius as Archbishop of Moravia. Soon his orthodoxy was again under question by the Germans, particularly over the use of Slavonic. Once again John VIII sanctioned the use of Slavonic in the liturgy but with the stipulation that the Gospel must first be read in Latin before the reading in Slavonic. Also, Methodius’ accuser, Wiching, was named a vicar bishop to Methodius, and from this position he continued to oppose him. With his health damaged during his long struggle with his opponents, Methodius died on April 6, 885, after having recommended as his successor his disciple, the Moravian Slav, Gorazd. The brothers are remembered on May 11. St. Cyril’s repose is also commemorated on February 14, and St. Methodius’ repose is also commemorated on April 6.St. Cyril is buried in San Clemente’s, one of the most amazing churches in Rome. It is a basilica.Troparion (Tone 4)
- O Cyril and Methodius, inspired by God,
- You became equal to the Apostles by your life.
- Since you were teachers of the Slavs,
- Intercede with the Master of all
- That He may strengthen all Orthodox peoples in the True Faith,
- And that He may grant peace to the world
- And great mercy to our souls.Kontakion – Tone 3
Let us praise the two priests of God who enlightened us,
And poured upon us the fount of the knowledge of God by translating the Holy Scripture.
O Cyril and Methodius, as abundant learning has been drawn from this work,
We exalt you who now stand before the Most High,
Interceding with fervor for the salvation of our souls.