The Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril, Teacher of the Slavs
Commemorated on February 14
The Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril, Teacher of the Slavs (named Constantine – upon his assuming of the Schema), and his older brother Methodios (Comm. 6 April), were by descent Slavs, born in Macedonia in the city of Soluneia (Thessalonika). Saint Cyril received the finest of educations, and from age 14 he was raised together with the son of the emperor. He early accepted the dignity of presbyter. Upon his return to Constantinople, he worked as a librarian of the cathedral church, and as a professor of philosophy. Saint Cyril successfully held debates with iconoclast heretics and with Mahometans. Yearning for solitude, he set off to Mount Olympos to his older brother Methodios, but his solitude lasted only a short while. Both brothers were dispatched by the emperor Michael in the year 857 on a missionary journey to preach Christianity to the Khozars. Along the way they stopped off at Cherson and discovered there the relics of the PriestMartyr Clement, Pope of Rome (Comm. 25 November). Arriving at the Khozars, the holy brothers spoke with them about the Christian faith. Persuaded by the preaching of Saint Cyril, the Khozar prince together with all his people accepted Christianity. The grateful prince wanted to reward the preachers with rich presents, but they refused this and instead asked the prince to free and send home with them all the Greek captives. Saint Cyril returned to Constantinople together with 200 such captives set free.
In the year 862 began the chief exploit of the holy brothers. At the request of prince Rostislav, the emperor sent them to Moravia for preaching Christianity in the Slavic language. Saints Cyril and Methodios by a revelation from God compiled a Slavonic alphabet and translated into the Slavonic language – the Gospel, Epistles, the Psalter and many Divine-service books. They introduced Divine-services in the Slavonic tongue. The holy brothers were then summoned to Rome at the invitation of the Roman pope. Pope Adrian received them with great honour, since they brought with them the relics of the PriestMartyr Clement, Pope of Rome. By nature sickly and of weak health, Saint Cyril from his many labours soon fell ill, and having taken the schema, he died in the year 869 at age 42. Before his death, he expressed last-wishes for his brother to continue with the Christian enlightenment of the Slavs. Saint Cyril was buried in the Roman church of Saint Clement, whose own relics also rest there, brought to Italy from Cherson by the Enlighteners of the Slavs.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.