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Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Apostles to the Slavs.

IX Century
Born c. 815/825 in Thessalonike, St. Methodius was the scion of a senatorial family. His younger brother St. Cyril, also known as Constantine the Philosopher, was born c. 826/827. Their mother Maria may have been a Slav. Well-educated, Cyril became the librarian at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and taught philosophy, while Methodius became an archon in Macedonia, and is thought to have been married before he became a monk at Mount Olympus in 850. Later, the two brothers began to evangelize the Khazars, who lived on the Black Sea. After Ratislav, Duke of Moravia, requested missionaries from Constantinople, Michael III sent the two to convert the Slavs in that kingdom. Cyril developed the glagolithic alphabet, based on the Greek, to translate the Bible and liturgical texts into Slavonic (or Old Bulgarian).

The pair were called to Rome a few years later to defend their use of the vernacular. Cyril is said to have presented Adrian II with the relics of Clement of Rome, after which the pope consented to the use of Slavonic. Cyril entered a monastery near Rome, where he died in 869. Frescoes in San Clemente depict his funeral, and his grave is in the basilica.

Methodius continued to translate liturgical texts into Slavonic after the death of his brother. In Rome, Adrian II had consecrated him bishop of Pannonia and Moravia; he returned to his see in 870. Louis the German captured him and imprisoned him for two years before John VIII secured his release. In 878, Methodius was summoned to Rome to defend a second time the use of the vernacular in the church. He was allowed to continue to use it, but Stephen V/VI tried to outlaw its use after Methodius' repose in 885.

Karen Rae Keck


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