Patron Saints of Slavs
by: Mike Church
“You have thrown your darts into the midst of the crowd, yet pretend no one will be hurt. How great soever the eyes of your wisdom may be, they are blinded by the smoke of avarice and envy. Your passion against Ignatius deprived you of your sight.”
Constantine and Methodius were own brothers, born of the same noble parents in Thessalonica, and when old enough were sent to Constantinople that they might learn literature and the arts; upon entering the priesthood he took the name Cyril.
Cyril attained such a reputation for learning, that he was called the Philosopher. Methodius, afterwards became a monk. The Empress Theodora, chose the brothers for a mission to convert the Khazares, a people dwelling beyond the Chersonesus which is today called Sevastopol, Crimea; Their success was so great that Pope Nicholas summoned them to Rome but by the time the brothers arrived he had died and Pope Adrian now reigned in St Peter’s Chair. While in Rome Saint Cyril died immediately following his being made a bishop. In one of his more famous acts, Saint Cyril condemned the heretic Photius and the heresy of two souls. From Rev. Alban Butler’s Lives of The Saints.
CONSTANTINE, who was afterwards called Cyril, was born at Thessalonica, of an illustrious senatorial Roman family. He had his education at Constantinople, and by his great progress in learning deserved to be surnamed The Philosopher; but piety was the most shining part of his character. He was promoted to the priesthood, and served the church with great zeal. St. Ignatius being advanced to the patriarchal dignity in 846, Photius set himself to decry his virtues, and disputed that every man has two souls. St. Cyril reproved him for this error. Photius answered him, that he meant not to hurt any one, but to try the abilities and logic of Ignatius. To which wretched excuse Cyril replied: “You have thrown your darts into the midst of the crowd, yet pretend no one will be hurt. How great soever the eyes of your wisdom may be, they are blinded by the smoke of avarice and envy. Your passion against Ignatius deprived you of your sight.”
St. Methodius continued the brother’s apostolic work and founded The Church of Our Lady at Prague; another of Saints Peter and Paul, and many others across the Slavic kingdom then called Moravia.
The two brothers are called the bishops of the Moravians in Russian Orthodox calendars to this day they are also called patron saints and apostles to: Upper Bohemia, Silesia, Cazria, Croatia, Circassia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Russia, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Dacia, Carinthia, Carniola, and of almost all the Sclavonian nations. They are responsible for the Slav alphabet, and indeed, for the Slav language.
On September 30th, in his encyclical GRANDE MUNUS 1888 Pope Leo XIII ordered their feast to be celebrated yearly, throughout the universal Church with a proper Mass and Office. Pope John Paul II made Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius patrons of Europe, along with Saint Benedict.