St. Cyril and St. Methodius
These two brothers were from Thessalonica, Greece. Methodius was born in 815 and Cyril in 827. Both became priests and shared the same holy desires to spread the faith. They became missionaries to the Slav nations of Moravia, Bohemia and Bulgaria. This is how it happened: In 862, just seven years before Cyril's death, the prince of Moravia asked for missionaries. They would bring the Good News of Jesus and the Church to his country. The prince added one more request: that the missionaries speak the language of his people.
The two brothers, Cyril and Methodius, volunteered and were accepted. They realized that they were being asked to leave their own country, language and culture behind out of love for Jesus. They did this willingly. Cyril and Methodius invented a Slav alphabet. They translated the Bible and the Church's liturgy into the Slav language. Because of them, the people were able to receive Christianity in words they could understand.
Some in the Church at that time did not approve of the use of a native language in the Church's liturgy. The two brothers faced criticism. They were called to Rome to have a meeting with the pope. Some people may have been surprised at the way the meeting went. Pope Adrian II showed his gratitude and admiration for the two missionaries. He approved their methods of spreading the faith and named them bishops. It seems that Cyril, a monk, died before he could actually be consecrated a bishop but Methodius was. Cyril died on February 14, 869. He is buried in the Church of St. Clement in Rome. Methodius returned to the Slav countries and continued his labors for fifteen more years. He died on April 6, 885.
On December 31, 1980, Pope John Paul II declared St. Cyril and St. Methodius co-patrons of Europe along with St. Benedict.
These two men brought the light of the Gospel to the Slavic nations and helped promote unity without imposing rigid uniformity. Let us pray for unity among Christians that we may become one in faith and praise.