The feast of SS Cyril and Methodius is celebrated
on February 14 of each year in the Latin Church.
Pope John Paul II named Saints Cyril and
Methodius, who are known as the Apostles of the Slavs, as Co-Patrons of Europe
in 1980 with St. Benedict. These two brothers, born in Thessalonica, Greece,
were evangelizers and educators among the Slavic People.
Cyril was born in 825 A.D. and was christened
Constantine. He was sent to study at the Imperial University in Constantinople.
While there, he was ordained a priest. Methodius, born in 826 A.D., became a
governor in a province in Macedonia but gave it up to take the religious habit,
becoming a monk at the monastery on Mt. Olympus in Constantinople.
King Rastislav, ruler of Greater Moravia appealed
to the court of Constantinople for missionaries who had a command of the
Slavonic language so they could evangelize his people. The German clergy had
tried but because of language problems were not successful. Emperor Michael III
assigned this mission to SS Cyril and Methodius.
Since their father, Leo, was an officer of the
army in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs they had knowledge of the
language. Their mother’s name was Mary. It is said she might have been of
The brothers arrived in Greater Moravia in 863.
Slovakia was part of Greater Moravia. The Slovak people must thank these two
Saints for bringing the Faith to Slovakia. With their knowledge of the Slavonic
language, they translated the Gospels, the Psalter, Paul’s letters and the
Liturgy into the Slavonic Language, which helped the people understand the
fundamental truth of Christianity. They invented Glagolitic scrip or Glagolica,
an alphabet adapted from the actual sounds of the Slavic language.
Charges of heresy were brought against them by
some of the German clergy because of the use of the vernacular in church
services. The German bishops also refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and
priests. Cyril and Methodius were summoned to Rome where Pope Adrian II examined
them, was convinced of their orthodoxy, and approved their use of the vernacular
in church liturgies. He blessed their mission and consecrated them bishops.
While in Rome, Constantine became a monk and took the name Cyril. He became ill
and died shortly after on Feb 14, 869. He is buried in San Clemente Church in
St. Method returned to Greater Moravia as the
Papal Legate. Despite the confirmation from Rome, he was again imprisoned
because of the German Bishops. It was three years later by order of Pope John
VIII that he returned to his See. Summoned to Rome again in 878 he was able to
convince the Pope of his orthodoxy. He continued his mission work for 16 more
years but the harassment continued. After a long struggle with the false
accusations, he died on April 6, 885 in Holy Week at his cathedral church. He is
buried at Velehrad, Slovakia.
On the 1100th anniversary of Saint Methodius’s death, a wonderful celebration was held at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with Pope John Paul II presiding. People from all the Slavic countries of Europe were present. The Slovak Catholic Federation sponsored a pilgrimage to the event. Several of our (Slovak Heritage Society of NEPA) board members were present at St. Peter's Basilica and at the Liturgy held in the Chapel at the Ustav with Cardinal Jozef Tomko as celebrant.
O Christian Soul,
English translation by Trude Check-Tuhy for the Gr. 7 Mass celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Slovak Catholic Sokol