Feast Day: February 14
Born:827/815 :: Died:869/885
Cyril and Methodius were brothers from Thessalonica in Greece. In their youth they learnt how to speak many languages, including Slavonic which at that time was not written down. Methodius was a provincial governor and the younger brother Cyril was a distinguished professor of Philosophy in Constantinople.
They both became priests and shared the same holy desires to spread the faith. Then the prince of Moravia asked for missionaries. He wanted them to 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. They became missionaries to the Slav nations of Moravia, Bohemia and Bulgaria.
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 people in the Church at that time did not approve of the use of a native language in the Church's liturgy and complained about the two brothers to the pope. Pope Nicholas I called them to Rome for a meeting to solve the problem.
But by the time they arrived, Adrian II had became pope and he was in favor of using the local language of the people in the liturgy. The pope showed his gratitude and admiration for the two missionaries. He approved their methods of spreading the faith and named them bishops.
Unfortunately, Cyril died on February 14, 869 before he could actually be consecrated a bishop and is buried in the Church of St. Clement in Rome. But Methodius became bishop, returned to the Slav countries and continued his labors for fifteen more years. He died on April 6, 885.
Cyril and Methodius were Greeks, under the authority of a Roman Pope, working together with the authorities of the Eastern Church. They symbolized bridge-building and connection between the two churches and are now seen as patron saints of ecumenism (unity) between the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom (Christianity).
St. Cyril and St. Methodius are also named co-patrons of Europe along with St. Benedict.
Reflection: 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.
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