Икона Святых покровителей

The Holy Brothers Cyril (secular name Constantine) and Methodius (secular name Michael) Equal-to-the-Apostles were natives of the city of Thessaloniki. There is no common opinion as to their ethnic origin but it is known for certain that they came from a well-off family and received a good education already in childhood.

At that time, the city of Thessaloniki, in which the brothers were born, was part of the Slavic (Bulgarian) territory and was the cultural center of Macedonia. Old Thessaloniki was a bilingual city in which the Slavonic speech must have been heard along with Greek. There is an opinion that St. Cyril had compiled the alphabet and began translating the Gospel into Slavonic already before they went on a mission to enlighten the Slavs.

Before he took monastic vows, St. Methodius, through the assistance of a friend and patron of the family – the Great Logothete eunuch Theoktiste, made a good military-administrative career which was crowned by his taking the office of the Strategus of Slavenia, a province in Macedonia; while St. Cyril, after he received a brilliant education for those times, occupied the post of Chartophylax (keeper of the library) at the Church of St. Sophia in Constantinople.

Central to the missionary work of the holy brothers was their mission in Moravia. In 862, envoys of the Moravian Prince Rostislav came to Constantinople with the following request: ‘Our people confess the Christian faith but we have no teachers to explain us the faith in our own language. Send us such teachers’. Emperor Michael III and Patriarch Photius summoned the holy brothers of Thessaloniki and suggested that they go on a mission to the Moravians.

On their way to Rome the brothers visited another Slavic country, Pannonia, and the Principality of Blaten in it. There, in Blatnograd, Prince Kocel entrusted them with the mission to teach Slavs bookwork and liturgy in Slavonic. After St. Cyril handed over to Pope Adrian II of Rome the relics of St. Clement he had found during his journey to Chersonese, the pope approved the liturgy in Slavonic and ordered that translated books be placed in churches in Rome. At the same time, St. Methodius was consecrated as bishop. In Rome St. Cyril fell seriously ill and passed away, but his brother continued their common task to enlighten the Slavs until his blissful demise in 885.

The role of Ss Cyril and Methodius Equal-to-the-Apostles, venerated both by the Eastern and Western Churches, is truely great. They are not only the creators of the Slavonic alphabet and translators of the first Scriptural texts and the liturgy into Slavonic, they are also heavenly intercessors before the Lord’s Throne for all those who are eager to be educated and to serve the cause of religious education.

It is not accidental that the holy brothers have been selected as heavenly patrons of the Russian Orthodox Church School of Post-Graduate and Doctoral Studies named after these saints. St. Cyril is the heavenly patron of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the founder of the School of Post-Graduate and Doctoral Studies. Both saints are eternal intercessors for the Slavic nations and helpers in the task of regenerating the faith and religious knowledge of God and the Church in Eastern Slavic countries.

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