samedi 7 juillet 2012

Saint CYRILLE, moine, et saint MÉTHODE, évêque, confesseurs et Apôtres des slaves


Saints Cyrille, moine, et Méthode, évêque

Les deux frères Constantin (né vers 827) et Méthode (né vers 815), originaires de Thessalonique, furent envoyés chez les Khazars puis en Moravie par le patriarche de Constantinople pour y annoncer le Christ. Pour évangéliser les peuples slaves, Constantin (Cyrille, de son nom de religieux) créa un alphabet adapté à leur langue, l'alphabet glagolitique (en son honneur, son nom sera donné plus tard à l’actuel alphabet oriental : l'alphabet cyrillique). En 868, ils allèrent à Rome faire le point de leurs travaux avec le pape. Constantin y mourut le 14 février 869. Quant à Méthode, ordonné archevêque de Sirmium, il repartit évangéliser les Slaves auprès desquels il mourut à Valehred en Moravie, le 6 avril 885. En butte à l’hostilité du clergé franc, Cyrille et Méthode furent fidèles à Constantinople, leur Eglise d’origine, et en étroite communion avec celle de Rome qui les appuya en la personne du pape Adrien II. Cette double obédience justifie le titre de co-patrons de l’Europe que leur donna le pape slave Jean-Paul II.

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/02/14/5175/-/saints-cyrille-moine-et-methode-eveque

SAINT CYRILLE et SAINT MÉTHODE

Apôtres des Slaves

(XIe siècle)

Jusqu'à ces derniers temps, saint Cyrille et saint Méthode n'étaient honorés qu'en certains lieux, surtout aux divers pays slaves qu'ils avaient évangélisés et à Rome. Le pape Léon XIII étendit leur culte à toute l'Église, et leur fête est fixée au 7 juillet.

Ces deux nobles frères, nés à Thessalonique, allèrent s'instruire à Constantinople. Après de profondes études, Méthode se fit moine; Cyrille reçut de l'impératrice Théodora la mission de christianiser certains peuples voisins de la Grèce; de là, il fut appelé avec son frère à l'évangélisation de la Moravie, où leur zèle produisit des merveilles de conversions. Ils traduisirent la Bible en langue slave, langue qui leur doit sa formation régulière.

Leur renommée les fit appeler à Rome par le pape Nicolas Ier; ils y arrivèrent porteurs des reliques du Pape saint Clément Ier, que Cyrille avait découvertes dans la Chersonèse. Revenus à leur apostolat, ils furent accusés d'employer la langue slave dans les cérémonies liturgiques; mais ils se défendirent victorieusement auprès du pape Adrien II.

Cyrille étant mort à Rome, dans la force de l'âge, eut son tombeau auprès de celui de saint Clément; son frère retourna encore vers ses chers Slaves et évangélisa la Pannonie, la Bulgarie, la Dalmatie, la Carinthie.

Accusé de nouveau à Rome, il se justifia si bien qu'il revint à son apostolat revêtu du caractère épiscopal. Après avoir prêché l'Évangile à la Bohême et à la Pologne, il alla mourir en Moravie, chargé de mérites et de gloire.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://www.forumreligioncatholique.com/t7617-saint-cyrille-moine-et-saint-methode-eveque-commentaire-du-jour-heureux-vous-les-pauvres-le-royaume-de-dieu-est-a-vous


BENOÎT XVI



AUDIENCE GÉNÉRALE



Mercredi 17 juin 2009

Saints Cyrille et Méthode

Chers frères et sœurs,


Je voudrais parler aujourd'hui des saints Cyrille et Méthode, frères de sang et dans la foi, appelés apôtres des slaves. Cyrille naquit à Thessalonique, du magistrat de l'empire Léon en 826/827: il était le plus jeune de sept enfants. Dans son enfance, il apprit la langue slave. A l'âge de quatorze ans, il fut envoyé à Constantinople pour y être éduqué et fut le compagnon du jeune empereur Michel iii. Au cours de ces années, il fut initié aux diverses matières universitaires, parmi lesquelles la dialectique, ayant comme maître Photios. Après avoir refusé un brillant mariage, il décida de recevoir les ordres sacrés et devint "bibliothécaire" auprès du Patriarcat. Peu après, désirant se retirer dans la solitude, il alla se cacher dans un monastère, mais il fut bientôt découvert et on lui confia l'enseignement des sciences sacrées et profanes, une fonction qu'il accomplit si bien qu'elle lui valut le surnom de "philosophe". Entre-temps, son frère Michel (né aux alentours de 815), après une carrière administrative en Macédoine, abandonna le monde vers 850 pour se retirer dans la vie monastique sur le mont Olympe en Bithynie, où il reçut le nom de Méthode (le nom monastique devait commencer par la même lettre que le nom de baptême) et devint higoumène du monastère de Polychron.

Attiré par l'exemple de son frère, Cyrille aussi décida de quitter l'enseignement et de se rendre sur le mont Olympe pour méditer et prier. Quelques années plus tard, cependant (vers 861), le gouvernement impérial le chargea d'une mission auprès des khazars de la Mer d'Azov, qui demandèrent que leur soit envoyé un homme de lettres qui sache dialoguer avec les juifs et les sarrasins. Cyrille, accompagné de son frère Méthode, s'arrêta longuement en Crimée, où il apprit l'hébreu. Là, il rechercha également le corps du Pape Clément i, qui y avait été exilé. Il trouva sa tombe, et lorsque son frère reprit le chemin du retour, il porta avec lui les précieuses reliques. Arrivés à Constantinople, les deux frères furent envoyés en Moravie par l'empereur Michel iii, auquel le prince moldave Ratislav avait adressé une requête précise: "Notre peuple - lui avait-il dit - depuis qu'il a rejeté le paganisme, observe la loi chrétienne; mais nous n'avons pas de maître qui soit en mesure de nous expliquer la véritable foi dans notre langue". La mission connut très vite un succès insolite. En traduisant la liturgie dans la langue slave, les deux frères gagnèrent une grande sympathie auprès du peuple.

Toutefois, cela suscita à leur égard l'hostilité du clergé franc, qui était arrivé précédemment en Moravie et qui considérait le territoire comme appartenant à sa juridiction ecclésiale. Pour se justifier, en 867, les deux frères se rendirent à Rome. Au cours du voyage, ils s'arrêtèrent à Venise, où eut lieu une discussion animée avec les défenseurs de ce que l'on appelait l'"hérésie trilingue": ceux-ci considéraient qu'il n'y avait que trois langues dans lesquelles on pouvait licitement louer Dieu: l'hébreu, le grec et le latin. Bien sûr, les deux frères s'opposèrent à cela avec force. A Rome, Cyrille et Méthode furent reçus par le Pape Adrien ii, qui alla à leur rencontre en procession, pour accueillir dignement les reliques de saint Clément. Le Pape avait également compris la grande importance de leur mission exceptionnelle. A partir du milieu du premier millénaire, en effet, les slaves s'étaient installés en très grand nombre sur ces territoires placés entre les deux parties de l'Empire romain, orientale et occidentale, qui étaient déjà en tension entre elles. Le Pape comprit que les peuples slaves auraient pu jouer le rôle de pont, contribuant ainsi à maintenir l'union entre les chrétiens de l'une et l'autre partie de l'Empire. Il n'hésita donc pas à approuver la mission des deux Frères dans la Grande Moravie, en acceptant l'usage de la langue slave dans la liturgie. Les livres slaves furent déposés sur l'autel de Sainte-Marie de Phatmé (Sainte-Marie-Majeure) et la liturgie en langue slave fut célébrée dans les Basiliques Saint-Pierre, Saint-André, Saint-Paul.

Malheureusement, à Rome, Cyrille tomba gravement malade. Sentant la mort s'approcher, il voulut se consacrer entièrement à Dieu comme moine dans l'un des monastères grecs de la Ville (probablement près de Sainte-Praxède) et prit le nom monastique de Cyrille (son nom de baptême était Constantin). Il pria ensuite avec insistance son frère Méthode, qui entre-temps avait été consacré évêque, de ne pas abandonner la mission en Moravie et de retourner parmi ces populations. Il s'adressa à Dieu à travers cette invocation: "Seigneur, mon Dieu..., exauce ma prière et conserve dans la fidélité le troupeau auquel tu m'avais envoyé... Libère-les de l'hérésie des trois langues, rassemble-les tous dans l'unité, et rends le peuple que tu as choisi concorde dans la véritable foi et dans la droite confession". Il mourut le 14 février 869.

Fidèle à l'engagement pris avec son frère, Méthode revint en 870 en Moravie et en Pannonie (aujourd'hui la Hongrie), où il retrouva à nouveau la violente aversion des missionnaires francs qui l'emprisonnèrent. Il ne perdit pas courage et lorsqu'il fut libéré en 873, il se prodigua activement dans l'organisation de l'Eglise, en suivant la formation d'un groupe de disciples. Ce fut grâce à eux si la crise qui se déchaîna à la mort de Méthode, qui eut lieu le 6 avril 885, put être surmontée: persécutés et mis en prison, certains de ces disciples furent vendus comme esclaves et conduits à Venise, où ils furent rachetés par un fonctionnaire constantinopolitain, qui leur permit de repartir dans les pays des slaves balkaniques. Accueillis en Bulgarie, ils purent poursuivre la mission commencée par Méthode, en diffusant l'Evangile dans la "terre de la Rus'". Dieu, dans sa mystérieuse providence, utilisait ainsi la persécution pour sauver l'œuvre des saints frères. De cette dernière, il reste également la documentation littéraire. Il suffit de penser à des œuvres telles que l'Evangéliaire (épisodes liturgiques du Nouveau Testament), le Psautier, différents textes liturgiques en langue slave, auxquels travaillèrent les deux frères. Après la mort de Cyrille, on doit à Méthode et à ses disciples, entre autres, la traduction de toute l'Ecriture Sainte, le Nomocanon et le Livre des Pères.

Voulant à présent résumer brièvement le profil spirituel des deux frères, on doit tout d'abord remarquer la passion avec laquelle Cyrille aborda les écrits de saint Grégoire de Nazianze, apprenant à son école la valeur de la langue dans la transmission de la Révélation. Saint Grégoire avait exprimé le désir que le Christ parle à travers lui: "Je suis le serviteur du Verbe, c'est pourquoi je me mets au service de la Parole". Voulant imiter Grégoire dans ce service, Cyrille demanda au Christ de vouloir parler en slave à travers lui. Il introduit son œuvre de traduction par l'invocation solennelle: "Ecoutez, ô vous tous les peuples slaves, écoutez la Parole qui vint de Dieu, la Parole qui nourrit les âmes, la Parole qui conduit à la connaissance de Dieu". En réalité, déjà quelques années avant que le prince de Moravie ne demande à l'empereur Michel iii l'envoi de missionnaires dans sa terre, il semble que Cyrille et son frère Méthode, entourés d'un groupe de disciples, travaillaient au projet de recueillir les dogmes chrétiens dans des livres écrits en langue slave. Apparut alors clairement l'exigence de nouveaux signes graphiques, plus proches de la langue parlée: c'est ainsi que naquit l'alphabet glagolithique qui, modifié par la suite, fut ensuite désigné sous le nom de "cyrillique" en l'honneur de son inspirateur. Ce fut un événement décisif pour le développement de la civilisation slave en général. Cyrille et Méthode étaient convaincus que chaque peuple ne pouvait pas considérer avoir pleinement reçu la Révélation tant qu'il ne l'avait pas entendue dans sa propre langue et lue dans les caractères propres à son alphabet.

C'est à Méthode que revient le mérite d'avoir fait en sorte que l'œuvre entreprise avec son frère ne soit pas brusquement interrompue. Alors que Cyrille, le "Philosophe", avait tendance à la contemplation, il était plutôt porté vers la vie active. C'est grâce à cela qu'il put établir les présupposés de l'affirmation successive de ce que nous pourrions appeler l'"idée cyrillo-méthodienne": celle-ci accompagna les peuples slaves pendant les diverses périodes historiques, favorisant le développement culturel, national et religieux. C'est ce que reconnaissait déjà le Pape Pie xi dans la Lettre apostolique Quod Sanctum Cyrillum, dans laquelle il qualifiait les deux frères: "fils de l'Orient, byzantins de patrie, grecs d'origine, romains par leur mission, slaves par leurs fruits apostoliques" (AAS 19 [1927] 93-96). Le rôle historique qu'ils jouèrent a ensuite été officiellement proclamé par le Pape Jean-Paul ii qui, dans la Lettre apostolique Egregiae virtutis viri, les a déclarés copatrons de l'Europe avec saint Benoît (AAS 73 [1981] 258-262). En effet, Cyrille et Méthode constituent un exemple classique de ce que l'on indique aujourd'hui par le terme d'"inculturation": chaque peuple doit introduire dans sa propre culture le message révélé et en exprimer la vérité salvifique avec le langage qui lui est propre. Cela suppose un travail de "traduction" très exigeant, car il demande l'identification de termes adaptés pour reproposer, sans la trahir, la richesse de la Parole révélée. Les deux saints Frères ont laissé de cela un témoignage significatif au plus haut point, vers lequel l'Eglise se tourne aujourd'hui aussi, pour en tirer son inspiration et son orientation.

* * *

Je suis heureux d’accueillir les pèlerins de langue française. Je salue particulièrement les paroisses et les jeunes ainsi que les étudiants de Nice. Que le témoignage des saints Cyrille et Méthode soit pour vous une source de lumière et d’espérance afin que vous demeuriez fidèles à la foi que vous avez reçue. Avec ma Bénédiction apostolique !

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



Saints Cyril et Méthode

Puisqu'ils étaient frères et que les circonstances les avaient amenés à entreprendre la même tâche - l'évangélisation des pays slaves - les biographies de saint Cyrille et de saint Méthode ne peuvent être dissociés.

Les Francs s'étant rendus maîtres des territoires Croates et Slavons, après que Charlemagne eut soumis les Avars (vers 790), atteignirent ceux des Bulgares. C'est à l'évêque de Salzbourg que Charlemagne confia la juridiction sur les pays slaves auxquels il imposa le latin.

Le prince Rastislav qui régnait sur la Moravie, accrut sa puissance de telle façon que ses voisins Francs et Bulgares, Louis le Germanique et le prince Boris, s'allièrent contre lui et les Bulgares reçurent des missionnaires francs. Menacé par l'empire d'Occident, Rastislav s'allia avec l'empereur byzantin, Michel III, et lui demanda des missionnaires sachant la langue slave car le peuple de Moravie ne connaissait pas le grec : Notre pays est baptisé et nous n'avons pas de maître pour nous prêcher, nous instruire et nous expliquer les livres saints. Nous ne comprenons ni la langue grecque, ni la langue latine : les uns nous instruisent d'une façon et les autres d'une autre ; aussi ne comprenons-nous pas le sens des livres sacrés et leur énergie. Envoyez-nous dons des maîtres qui soient capables de nous expliquer la lettre des livres sacrés et leur esprit. Nous autres Slaves, nous sommes un peuple simple et nous n'avons personne pour nous enseigner la vérité. Désigne-nous donc, généreux monarque, un homme capable de nous parler.

Michel III fit appel à deux frères, Cyrille et Méthode, qui avaient fait leurs études à Constantinople, et les envoya en Moravie (861). Cyrille, né à Salonique en 827, polyglotte et grammairien, connaissait bien le dialecte slave.

Peu après, les Slaves de Moravie, alliés aux Byzantins, entrent en guerre contre les Bulgares, alliés aux Francs. Les Bulgares sont vite battus par les Byzantins et doivent renoncer à l'alliance franque, mais Louis le Germanique impose sa suzeraineté à la Moravie.

Cyrille et Méthode, en territoire slave, à la demande d'un prince slave, prêchant et écrivant en slavon, sont cependant isolés au milieu de l'Empire franc qui n'admettait que la liturgie latine.Le pape Nicolas I°, homme droit, simple et énergique, soucieux de l'évangélisation profonde des peuples slaves, encourage les Bulgares au point que le prince Boris renvoie les missionnaires grecs et francs pour les remplacer par des missionnaires romains. Cyrille et Méthode sont invités à se rendre à Rome où ils apportent les reliques du saint pape et martyr Clément qu'ils ont découvertes en Crimée.

On rapporte que, passant à Venise, Cyrille est pris à partie par des gens qui prétendent que Dieu ne peut être loué qu'en hébreu, en grec ou en latin ; il leur rétorque que depuis longtemps les Arméniens, les Éthiopiens, les Égyptiens, les Persans, les Syriens et bien d'autres encore emploient leur langue nationale tant pour la liturgie que pour la traduction des livres saints.

Lorsqu'ils arrivent à Rome, Nicolas I° est mort, mais son successeur, Adrien II, approuve entièrement leur action et les fait, dit-on, sacrer évêques. Le pape approuve l'usage de la liturgie slavonne dans l'Église de Moravie et fait déposer l'évangéliaire slavon sur l'autel de Sainte Marie Majeure.

Quelque temps plus tard, Cyrille fait sa profession monastique mais meurt cinquante jours plus tard, le 14 février 869, sans avoir pu rejoindre sa mission. Son tombeau est à Rome, dans l'Église Saint Clément.

Méthode part pour la Pannonie où il est évêque, puis archevêque de Sirmium. Or, à peine est-il arrivé dans son diocèse qu'il est arrêté par des troupes bavaroises ; accusé d'hérésie et d'imposture il comparaît devant un tribunal présidé par l'archevêque de Salzbourg où il est condamné à la captivité dans un monastère bavarois. Lorsque, deux et demi plus tard, le nouveau pape, Jean VIII, apprend l'incarcération de Méthode, il envoie un évêque et exige en termes violents que Méthode soit libéré (873). Provisoirement, jusqu'à être plus amplement informé, suspend l'emploi du slavon dans la liturgie, mais, deux ans plus tard, il écrit (880) : Ce n'est pas contraire à la foi, ni à la doctrine, de chanter la messe en langue slavonne ou de lire le saint Évangile, les leçons divines du Nouveau et de l'Ancien Testament ou encore de chanter les diverses parties de la liturgie en langue slavonne.

Méthode se rend près de l'empereur Basile I° pour rendre compte de sa juridiction spirituelle sur la Bulgarie et la Serbie qui dépendent alors de Byzance où il reçoit un accueil triomphal. De retour en Moravie, Méthode désigne son successeur, Gorazd, puis, le 6 avril 885, meurt, probablement à Velehrad.

De nos jours, l'alphabet dit cyrillique, en hommage au génie des deux frères, est utilisé par plus de 250 millions de personnes réparties entre le groupe oriental (russe et ukrainien) et le groupe méridional (bulgare et serbe) ; le groupe occidental (tchèque et polonais) emploie les caractères latins avec cependant quelques lettres modifiées par des signes destinés à préciser la prononciation.



Saints Cyrille et Méthode

Apôtres des Slaves (9ème s.)

C'étaient de purs enfants de Byzance, la capitale de l'Orient chrétien. Nés à Thessalonique, Méthode et son petit frère surdoué, Constantin (qui recevra sur son lit de mort l'habit monastique sous le nom de Cyrille) sont envoyés en mission par le patriarche de Constantinople, tout d'abord chez les Khazars, peuple venu de l'Asie lointaine et qui ont adhéré au judaïsme. Puis ils sont envoyés en Moravie où les Allemands s'installaient en maîtres. Pour évangéliser les peuples slaves, Cyrille crée un alphabet adapté à leur langue. Les Églises qui utilisent le slavon se remplissent et les autres se vident. Ce n'est pas l'actuel alphabet cyrillique qu'un autre religieux bulgare adaptera en se mettant sous le patronyme du célèbre moine. Cyrille traduit les textes bibliques et liturgiques. Mais ils sont très vite attaqués par des clercs germaniques qui leur reprochent de brader les textes sacrés et d'y mettre des germes d'hérésies en utilisant une langue vulgaire. Le Pape Hadrien II les soutient. C'est d'ailleurs à Rome que meurt Cyrille en 869. Son corps fut rapatrié à Salonique en 1976, en signe de la volonté de communion entre l'Église latine et les Églises orientales. Méthode va reprendre le flambeau. Moins brillant que Cyrille, mais d'une persévérance à toute épreuve, il enracine et fait fructifier, au milieu des tribulations, l'œuvre évangélisatrice de son frère. Dénoncé comme hérétique par ses adversaires, il sera mis en prison pendant deux ans par les Allemands. Lui aussi aura la confiance des papes qui l'ont nommé évêque de Moravie et Pannonie. Ils sont ainsi tous deux témoins de l'Église indivise dans la pluralité des rites et des langues, fidèles au pape comme au patriarche de Constantinople dont ils étaient les fils, Cyrille et Méthode ont été nommés co-patrons de l'Europe, avec saint Benoît, sainte Catherine de Sienne, sainte Brigitte de Suède, et Sœur Thérèse Bénédicte de la Croix - Sainte Édith Stein.

Les Églises d'Orient font mémoire de ces deux grands évangélisateurs de l'Europe orientale le 11 mai. L'Église d'Occident les fête le 14 février.

"De culture grecque et de tradition orientale, d'une mission à l'origine très politique, les deux frères vont faire un stage d'immersion culturelle permettant l'émancipation culturelle, concevant le nouvel alphabet le cyrillique. Ils adoptent la langue slave pour les offices. Ils ont rendus les slaves membres à part entière de l'Église, refusant de choisir Rome ou Constantinople." La Croix 08/04

Cyrille et Méthode, apôtres des slaves et co-patrons de l'Europe, ont été évoqués par Benoît XVI à l'occasion de l'audience générale du 17 juillet 2009... "Le profil spirituel des frères de Salonique se révèle surtout dans l'attrait de Cyrille pour les écrits de Grégoire de Naziance, dont il apprit la valeur du langage pour la transmission de la Révélation... Cyrille et Méthode avaient travaillé au projet de traduire en slavon les dogmes chrétiens... d'où la nécessité d'utiliser des lettres plus conformes que celles du grec à la langue parlée. C'est ainsi que naquit l'alphabet glagolitique, plus tard appelé cyrillique en l'honneur de saint Cyrille... Cyrille et Méthode avaient compris qu'un peuple ne peut considérer avoir reçu pleinement la Révélation avant de l'avoir entendue et lue dans sa langue. Tous deux sont la référence de ce qu'on nomme inculturation, en vertu de laquelle les peuples doivent imprimer dans leur culture propre le message révélé et exprimer la vérité du salut dans sa langue... En cela l'Église voit en eux une source d'inspiration et d'action toujours valable".

Mémoire (en Europe: fête) des saints Cyrille, moine, et Méthode, évêque. Ces deux frères de Thessalonique, envoyés par le patriarche de Constantinople, Photius, en Moravie, y prêchèrent la foi chrétienne et composèrent un alphabet propre pour transcrire du grec en slavon les livres saints. Quand ils vinrent à Rome, Cyrille, qui jusque là s’appelait Constantin, atteint par la maladie se fit moine et s’endormit dans le Seigneur en ce jour, l’an 869. Méthode, ordonné évêque de Sirmium par le pape Adrien II, évangélisa infatigablement la Pannonie, dut supporter bien des querelles qui lui furent infligées, mais soutenu toujours par les pontifes romains, il reçut la récompense de ses travaux à Valehred en Moravie, le 6 avril 885.

Martyrologe romain

SOURCE : http://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint_638.html


Ss. Cyrille et Méthode, évêques et confesseurs

L’Église célèbre en ce jour la fête des Ss. Cyrille et Méthode, qui s’engagèrent sous serment à persévérer dans la foi du bienheureux Pierre et des Pontifes Romains [1], et amenèrent à Pierre en nombreuses recrues les Bulgares, les Moraves et les Bohêmes [2].

Frères par le sang, ils naquirent à Thessalonique au IXème siècle. Saint Cyrille mourut à Rome en 869 et fut enseveli près des reliques de St Clément, qu’il avait apporté de Chéronèse. St Méthode mourut en 885.

En 1880, Léon XIII fixa leur fête le 5 juillet, dans l’octave des Sts Pierre et Paul. La fête fut déplacée au 7 lors de la canonisation de St Antoine-Marie-Zaccaria.

Le Pape Jean-Paul II les a déclaré co-patrons de l’Europe en 1980.

[1] 5è lecture des Matines avant 1962

[2] Hymne des vêpres


Leçons des Matines avant 1960.

Au deuxième nocturne.

De l’Encyclique du Pape Léon XIII

Quatrième leçon. Cyrille et Méthode étaient frères. Nés à Thessalonique de très nobles parents, ils se rendirent de bonne heure à Constantinople pour étudier les arts libéraux dans cette capitale de l’Orient. L’un et l’autre firent de grands progrès en peu de temps ; Cyrille surtout acquit dans les sciences une telle réputation, qu’on lui décernait, par une considération singulière, le surnom de philosophe. Méthode commença à mener la vie monastique. De son côté, Cyrille s’attira tant d’estime, que l’impératrice Théodora, sur le conseil du Patriarche Ignace, lui confia la mission d’initier au christianisme les Khazares, qui habitaient au delà de la Chersonèse. Instruits par sa parole et touchés par la grâce de Dieu, ces peuples, délivrés d’une foule de superstitions, s’attachèrent bientôt à Jésus-Christ. Lorsque la nouvelle communauté de chrétiens fut parfaitement constituée, Cyrille se hâta de revenir à Constantinople pour se retirer au monastère de Polychrone, où Méthode se trouvait déjà. Mais pendant ce temps, la renommée faisait connaître à Ratislas, prince de Moravie, les succès obtenus au delà de la Chersonèse, et ce prince demanda quelques ouvriers évangéliques à Michel III, empereur de Constantinople. Cyrille et Méthode furent destinés à cette mission, et ce fut avec une grande joie qu’on les accueillit à leur arrivée en Moravie. Ils entreprirent avec tant d’énergie et d’activité de faire pénétrer dans les esprits les enseignements chrétiens, que bientôt la nation entière se donna volontiers à Jésus-Christ. Pour arriver à ce résultat, la connaissance de la langue slave, que Cyrille avait acquise auparavant, lui fut d’un grand secours ; comme aussi les saintes lettres de l’Ancien et du Nouveau Testament, qu’il traduisit dans l’idiome propre à ce peuple. Cyrille et Méthode sont en effet les inventeurs des caractères de la langue slave, et c’est à juste titre qu’on regarde ces deux Saints comme les auteurs de cette langue.

Cinquième leçon. Le bruit de ces grandes actions se répandit promptement jusqu’à Rome, et le Pape saint Nicolas 1er ordonna aux deux illustres frères de se rendre en cette ville. Ils prirent le chemin de Rome, portant avec eux les reliques du Pape saint Clément 1er, que Cyrille avait découvertes en Chersonèse. A cette nouvelle, Adrien II, qui avait remplacé Nicolas récemment décédé, alla au-devant d’eux en grande pompe, accompagné du clergé et du peuple. Cyrille et Méthode rendirent compte au souverain Pontife, en présence du clergé, de la charge apostolique qu’ils avaient remplie si saintement et si laborieusement. Comme ils étaient accusés par des envieux de s’être servis de la langue slave dans l’accomplissement des saints Mystères, ils apportèrent pour se défendre des raisons si décisives et si lumineuses, qu’ils eurent l’approbation et les félicitations du Pape et de l’assistance. Tous deux s’étant alors engagés sous serment à persévérer dans la foi du bienheureux Pierre et des Pontifes romains, ils furent consacrés Évêques par Adrien. Mais la divine Providence avait décidé que Cyrille, plus mûr par la vertu que par l’âge, terminerait à Rome le cours de sa vie. Le corps du défunt, enlevé de sa demeure au milieu des témoignages d’un deuil public, fut déposé dans le tombeau qu’Adrien s’était fait construire à lui-même, puis transporté à la basilique de saint Clément et enseveli près des reliques de ce saint Pape. En portant ce corps à travers la Ville, au chant solennel des Psaumes, avec une pompe qui ressemblait plus à un triomphe qu’à des funérailles, le peuple romain sembla avoir décerné à cet homme très saint les prémices des honneurs célestes. Méthode, retourné en Moravie et s’y faisant de cœur le modèle du troupeau, s’appliqua de jour en jour avec plus de zèle à servir les intérêts catholiques. Bien plus, il affermit dans la foi chrétienne les Pannoniens, les Bulgares et les Dalmates, et travailla beaucoup à convertir les populations de Carinthie au culte du seul vrai Dieu.

Sixième leçon. Accusé, auprès de Jean VIII, successeur d’Adrien, d’avoir altéré la foi et changé les coutumes établies, il fut appelé à Rome pour se justifier devant le Pape, les Évêques et quelques membres du clergé romain. Méthode démontra facilement, et sa fidélité à conserver la foi catholique, et son zèle à l’enseigner aux autres ; quant à l’emploi de la langue slave dans les rites sacrés, il fit voir qu’il avait agi légitimement, pour de sérieux motifs et avec la permission du Pape Adrien, et que d’ailleurs rien dans les Écritures ne s’y opposait. C’est pourquoi le Pontife romain prit alors le parti de Méthode et ordonna de reconnaître son pouvoir archiépiscopal et sa délégation chez les Slaves ; il publia même une lettre à cet effet. De retour en Moravie, Méthode continua de remplir de plus en plus soigneusement la charge qui lui était confiée) et souffrit même l’exil de bon cœur à ce sujet. Il amena le prince des Bohèmes et son épouse à la foi, et répandit de tous côtés dans cette nation le nom chrétien. Ayant porté la lumière de l’Évangile en Pologne, et établi à Léopol un siège épiscopal, il pénétra, au rapport de quelques historiens, dans la Moscovie proprement dite, et fonda l’évêché de Kiev ; enfin il revint en Moravie parmi les siens, et là, sentant approcher la fin de sa carrière, il désigna lui-même son successeur. Ayant exhorté le clergé et le peuple à la vertu, par de suprêmes recommandations, il termina en grande paix cette vie qui avait été pour lui le chemin du ciel. La Moravie entoura ses funérailles des mêmes honneurs que Rome avait rendus à Cyrille. Le souverain Pontife Léon XIII a ordonné que leur Fête, depuis longtemps solennisée parmi les peuples slaves, serait célébrée annuellement dans l’Église universelle avec un Office et une Messe propres.

Au troisième nocturne.

Lecture du saint Évangile selon saint Luc. Cap. 10, 1-9.

En ce temps-là : le Seigneur désigna encore soixante-douze autres disciples, et les envoya deux à deux devant lui dans toutes les villes et tous les lieux où lui-même devait venir. Et le reste.

Homélie de saint Grégoire, Pape. Hom. 17 in Evangelia

Septième leçon. Notre Seigneur et Sauveur nous instruit, mes bien-aimés frères, tantôt par ses paroles, et tantôt par ses œuvres. Ses œuvres elles-mêmes sont des préceptes, et quand il agit, même sans rien dire, il nous apprend ce que nous avons à faire. Voilà donc que le Seigneur envoie ses disciples prêcher ; il les envoie deux à deux, parce qu’il y a deux préceptes de la charité : l’amour de Dieu et l’amour du prochain, et qu’il faut être au moins deux pour qu’il y ait lieu de pratiquer la charité. Car, à proprement parler, on n’exerce pas la chanté envers soi-même ; mais l’amour, pour devenir charité, doit avoir pour objet une autre personne.

Huitième leçon. Voilà donc que le Seigneur envoie ses disciples deux à deux pour prêcher ; il nous fait ainsi tacitement comprendre que celui qui n’a point de charité envers le prochain ne doit en aucune manière se charger du ministère de la prédication. C’est avec raison que le Seigneur dit qu’il a envoyé ses disciples devant lui, dans toutes les villes et tous les lieux où il devait venir lui-même. Le Seigneur suit ceux qui l’annoncent. La prédication a lieu d’abord ; et le Seigneur vient établir sa demeure dans nos âmes, quand les paroles de ceux qui nous exhortent l’ont devancé, et qu’ainsi la vérité a été reçue par notre esprit.

Neuvième leçon. Voilà pourquoi Isaïe a dit aux mêmes prédicateurs : « Préparez la voie du Seigneur ; rendez droits les sentiers de notre Dieu ». A son tour le Psalmiste dit aux enfants de Dieu : « Faites un chemin à celui qui monte au-dessus du couchant ». Le Seigneur est en effet monté au-dessus du couchant ; car plus il s’est abaissé dans sa passion, plus il a manifesté sa gloire en sa résurrection. Il est vraiment monté au-dessus du couchant : car, en ressuscitant, il a foulé aux pieds la mort qu’il avait endurée. Nous préparons donc le chemin à Celui qui est monté au-dessus du couchant quand nous vous prêchons sa gloire, afin que lui-même, venant ensuite, éclaire vos âmes par sa présence et son amour.

A Laudes.

Hymnus

Lux o decóra pátriæ

Slavísque amíca géntibus,

Salvéte, fratres : ánnuo

Vos efferémus cántico.

Quos Roma plaudens éxcipit,

Compléxa mater fílios,

Auget coróna præsulum

Novóque firmat róbore.

Terras ad usque bárbaras

Inférre Christum pérgitis ;

Quot vanus error lúserat,

Almo replétis lúmine.

Noxis solúta péctora

Ardor supérnus ábripit ;

Mutátur horror véprium

In sanctitátis flósculos.

Et nunc seréna Cælitum

Locáti in aula, súpplici

Adéste voto : Slávicas

Serváte gentes Númini.

Erróre mersos únicum

Ovíle Christi cóngreget ;

Factis ávitis æmula

Fides viréscat púlchrior.

Tu nos, beáta Trínitas,

Cælésti amóre cóncita,

Patrúmque natos ínclyta

Da pérsequi vestígia.

Amen.

V/. Sapiéntiam Sanctórum narrent pópuli.

R/. Et laudem eórum núntiet Ecclésia.

Ad Bened. Ant. In sanctitáte * et iustítia serviérunt Dómino ómnibus diébus suis : ídeo stolam glóriæ índuit illos Dóminus, Deus Israël.

Hymne

O Lumière splendide de la patrie,

lumière bienfaisante envers les peuples slaves,

Salut, ô frères : chaque année

nos chants sacrés vous exalteront.

Rome vous reçoit et applaudit,

comme une mère embrasse ses fils ;

elle met à votre front la couronne des Pontifes,

et vous revêt d’une force nouvelle.

Jusqu’en des contrées barbares

vous portez le Christ ;

ceux qu’une vaine erreur abusait

vous les remplissez d’une vivifiante lumière.

Les cœurs sont délivrés des liens du vice,

une ardeur céleste s’en empare ;

l’horreur des ronces se change

en fleurs de sainteté.

Et maintenant que vous êtes fixés

dans le palais serein de la cour céleste,

écoutez favorablement notre suppliante prière :

conservez à Dieu les populations slaves.

Que l’unique bercail du Christ

rassemble ceux qui sont plongés dans l’erreur ;

et que, rivalisant avec les temps passés,

la foi se montre de plus en plus florissante.

O Vous, Trinité bienheureuse,

animez-nous de votre amour céleste,

et faites que les enfants suivent

les nobles traces de leurs pères.

Amen.

V/. Que les peuples racontent la sagesse des saints [5].


R/. Et que l’Église publie leur louange.

Ant. au Benedictus Dans la sainteté * et la justice ils ont servi le Seigneur tous les jours de leur vie [6] : aussi le Seigneur d’Israël les a-t-il revêtus de la robe de gloire [7].


Aux Vêpres.

Hymnus

Sédibus cæli nítidis recéptos

Dícite athlétas géminos, fidéles ;

Slávicæ duplex cólumen decúsque

Dícite gentis.

Hos amor fratres sociávit unus,

Unaque abdúxit píetas erémo,

Ferre quo multis célerent beátæ

Pígnora vitæ.

Luce, quæ templis súperis renídet,

Búlgaros complent, Móravos, Bohémos ;

Mox feras turmas numerósa Petro

Agmina ducunt.

Débitam cincti méritis corónam,

Pérgite o flecti lácrimis precántum ;

Prisca vos Slavis opus est datóres

Dona tuéri.

Quæque vos clamat generósa tellus

Servet ætérnæ fídei nitórem :

Quæ dedit princeps, dabit ipsa semper

Roma salútem.

Gentis humánæ Sator et Redémptor,

Qui bonus nobis bona cuncta præbes,

Sint tibi grates, tibi sit per omne

Glória sæclum.

Amen.

V/. Sacerdótes tui induántur iustítiam.

R/. Et Sancti tui exsúltent.

Ad Magnificat Ant. Isti sunt * viri sancti facti amíci Dei, divínæ veritátis præcónio gloriósi : linguæ eórum claves cæli factæ sunt.

Hymne

Chantez, fidèles, les deux athlètes

reçus au brillant séjour du ciel ;

chantez la double colonne

et cette gloire de la nation slave.

Un même amour a réuni ces frères,

une même piété les arrache au désert,

et les rend prompts à porter à beaucoup d’âmes

les gages de la vie bienheureuse.

De la lumière qui brille au temple d’en haut

ils inondent Bulgares, Moraves, Bohèmes ;

par eux sont amenées à Pierre, en nombreuses recrues,

ces foules sauvages.

Ceints de la couronne due à vos mérites,

continuez de vous laisser fléchir par les larmes de ceux qui vous prient :

les Slaves ont besoin que vous leur conserviez

les bienfaits que vous leur avez apportés autrefois.

Que la terre généreuse qui vous invoque

garde fidèlement la pureté de la foi éternelle :

c’est Rome qui, la première, lui a procuré le salut,

c’est Rome qui le lui procurera toujours.

Créateur et Rédempteur de la race humaine,

vous dont la bonté nous donne tous les biens,

à vous reconnaissance, à vous gloire

dans tous les siècles.

Amen.

V/. Que vos prêtres soient revêtus de justice [8].


R/. Et que vos saints exultent.

Ant. au Magnificat Ce sont là * de saints personnages, qui se sont faits les amis de Dieu, et se sont rendus glorieux en publiant la vérité divine : leurs langues sont devenues comme les clefs du ciel.

[5] Eccli. 44, 15.

[6] Luc. 1, 75.

[7] Eccli. 45, 9.

[8] Ps. 131, 9.


Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

Il convenait que l’Octave des Princes des Apôtres ne s’éloignât point, sans qu’apparussent au Cycle sacré quelques-uns des satellites glorieux qui empruntent d’eux leur lumière à travers les siècles. Deux astres jumeaux se lèvent au ciel de la sainte Église, illuminant des feux de leur apostolat d’immenses contrées. Partis de Byzance, on croirait tout d’abord que leur évolution va s’accomplir indépendante des lois que l’ancienne Rome a puissance de dicter aux mouvements des cieux, dont il est dit qu’ils racontent la gloire de Dieu et les œuvres de ses mains [9]. Mais saint Clément Ier, dont les reliques sont tirées par eux d’une obscurité de huit siècles, incline leur marche vers la cité maîtresse ; et bientôt on les voit graviter avec un éclat incomparable dans l’orbite de Pierre, manifestant une fois de plus au monde que toute vraie lumière, dans l’ordre du salut, rayonne uniquement du Vicaire de l’Homme-Dieu. Alors aussi, une fois de plus, se réalise magnifiquement la parole du Psaume, que tout idiome et toute langue entendra la voix des messagers de la lumière [10].

Au subit et splendide épanouissement de la Bonne Nouvelle qui marqua le premier siècle de notre ère, avait succédé le labeur du second apostolat, chargé par l’Esprit-Saint d’amener au Fils de Dieu les races nouvelles appelées par la divine Sagesse à remplacer l’ancien monde. Déjà, sous l’influence mystérieuse de la Ville éternelle s’assimilant par un triomphe nouveau ceux qui l’avaient vaincue, une autre race latine s’était formée des barbares mêmes dont l’invasion, comme un déluge, semblait avoir pour jamais submergé l’Empire. L’accession des Francs au baptême, la conversion des Goths ariens et de leurs nombreux frères d’armes achevaient à peine cette transformation merveilleuse, que les Anglo-Saxons, puis les Germains, suivis bientôt des Scandinaves, venaient, sous la conduite des moines Augustin, Boniface et Anschaire, frapper eux-mêmes aux portes de l’Église. A la voix créatrice des apôtres nouveaux, l’Europe apparaissait, sortant des eaux de la fontaine sacrée.

Cependant, le mouvement continu de la grande émigration des peuples avait amené sur les rives du Danube une famille dont le nom commençait, au IXe siècle, à fixer l’attention du monde. Entre l’Orient et l’Occident, les Slaves, mettant à profit la faiblesse des descendants de Charlemagne et les révolutions de la cour de Byzance, tendaient à ériger leurs tribus en principautés indépendantes de l’un et l’autre empire. C’était l’heure que la Providence avait choisie, pour conquérir au christianisme et à la civilisation une race jusque-là sans histoire. L’Esprit de la Pentecôte se reposait sur les deux saints frères que nous fêtons en ce jour. Préparés par la vie monastique à tous les dévouements, à toutes les souffrances, ils apportaient à ces peuples qui cherchaient à sortir de leur obscurité passée, les premiers éléments des lettres et la connaissance des nobles destinées auxquelles le Dieu Sauveur conviait les hommes et les nations. Ainsi la race Slave devenait digne de compléter la grande famille européenne, et Dieu, dans cette Europe objet des éternelles prédilections, lui concédait l’espace plus largement qu’il ne l’avait fait pour ses devancières.

Heureuse, si toujours elle s’était tenue attachée à cette Rome qui, dans les rivalités dont ses origines eurent à subir l’assaut, l’avait si grandement aidée ! Rien, en effet, ne seconda plus ses aspirations à l’indépendance que la faveur d’une langue spéciale dans les rites sacrés, obtenue pour elle du Siège de Pierre par ses deux apôtres. Les réclamations de ceux qui prétendaient la garder sous leurs lois montrèrent assez, dès lors, la portée politique d’une concession aussi insolite qu’elle était décisive pour consacrer dans ces régions l’existence d’un peuple nouveau, distinct à la fois des Germains et des Grecs.

L’avenir le devait mieux prouver encore. Si aujourd’hui, des Balkans à l’Oural, des rivages grecs aux bords glacés de l’Océan du Nord, la race Slave s’étend, toujours forte, irréductible aux invasions, maintenant, au sein des empires qui ont pu la terrasser un jour, ce dualisme que le peuple vainqueur doit se résigner à porter en ses flancs comme une menace toujours vivante à travers les siècles : un tel phénomène, qui ne se retrouve point ailleurs en pareille mesure, est le produit de la démarcation puissante opérée il y a mille ans, entre cette race et le reste du monde, par l’introduction dans la Liturgie de sa langue nationale. Devenu sacré par cet usage, le Slavon primitif ne connut point les variations inhérentes aux idiomes des autres nations ; tout en donnant naissance aux dialectes variés de divers peuples issus de la souche commune, il resta le même, suivant les moindres tribus slaves dans les péripéties de leur histoire et continuant, pour le plus grand nombre, de les grouper à part de toutes autres au pied des autels. Belle unité, gloire de l’Église, si le désir, si l’espérance des deux Saints qui l’avaient établie sur le roc immuable, avaient pu l’y maintenir ! Arme terrible au service de la tyrannie, si jamais Satan la faisait tomber parle schisme entre les mains de quelqu’un des suppôts de l’enfer. Mais ces considérations nous entraîneraient trop loin.

En inscrivant la solennité des saints Cyrille et Méthodius au calendrier universel, le Souverain Pontife Léon XIII a voulu donner lui-même leur expression aux hommages et prières de l’Église, dans les deux Hymnes de la fête (voir plus haut à l’Office).

A cet auguste hommage nous joignons nos vœux, ô saints frères. Avec le Pontife suprême, nous osons chanter vos louanges, et vous recommander l’immense portion de l’héritage du Christ où vos sueurs firent germer, à la place des ronces, les fleurs de la sainteté. Préparés dans la solitude à toute œuvre bonne et utile au Seigneur [11], vous ne craignîtes point d’aborder les premiers ces régions inconnues, l’effroi du vieux monde, ces terres de l’aquilon où les Prophètes avaient signalé le trône de Satan [12], la source intarissable des maux ravageant l’univers [13]. L’appel de l’Esprit-Saint vous faisait apôtres, et les Apôtres ayant reçu ordre d’enseigner toutes les nations [14] vous alliez, dans la simplicité de votre obéissance, à celles qui n’étaient pas encore évangélisées. Cette obéissance, Rome, c’était son devoir, voulut l’éprouver, et reconnut qu’elle était sans alliage. Satan aussi le reconnut, à sa défaite ; car l’Écriture avait dit : « L’homme obéissant racontera ses victoires » [15]. Autre puissance qui fut la vôtre, et que nous révèle encore l’Écriture, disant : « Le frère aidé par le frère est comme une ville forte, et leurs conseils sont comme les barres des portes des villes » [16]. Chassé par plus fort que lui, le fort armé vit donc avec rage passer au Christ le domaine qu’il croyait posséder la paix [17], et ses dernières dépouilles, les peuples de l’aquilon, devenir comme ceux du midi l’ornement de l’Épouse [18]. Louez le Seigneur, toutes les nations ; louez-le, tous les peuples [19] : toute langue confesse le Seigneur Jésus-Christ [20] ! Comme monument de la victoire, le septénaire des langues sacrées se complète en ce jour [21]. Mais, ô Méthodius, ô Cyrille, au milieu même des Hymnes saintes que vous dédiait le Pontife souverain, un cri d’alarme a retenti : « Gardez à Dieu les peuples Slaves ! Il est urgent à vous de protéger vos dons. » Levez vos yeux, pourrions-nous en effet dire avec le prophète ; considérez, vous qui venez de l’aquilon : où est le troupeau qui vous fut donné, ce troupeau magnifique ? Quoi donc ! Est-ce contre vous que vous l’avez instruit ? L’avez-vous armé pour votre perte [22] ? Profondeurs de Satan [23] ! le prince de l’aquilon a trop su réparer sa défaite ; et vos bienfaits, et la condescendance de Pierre, sont devenus par ses soins une arme de mort pour ces peuples auxquels vous aviez donné la vie. Détournée de sa voie, l’unité sainte que vous aviez fondée s’est traduite de nos jours, en caractères de sang, dans la formule d’un hideux panslavisme. Entre Byzance déjà de vos temps travaillée par le schisme, et l’Occident latin que l’hérésie devait lui-même plus tard affaiblir et démembrer, elle pouvait être, à son heure, un appui pour l’Église, un espoir de salut pour le monde. Perspectives séduisantes, que votre cœur sans doute avait rêvées, et qui, hélas ! ont abouti à ces atroces persécutions, scandale de nos temps, opprobre de la terre.

Réconfortez les exilés, soutenez les martyrs, gardez les restes d’un peuple de héros ; écartez de quelques autres la fatale illusion qui les solliciterait à courir d’eux-mêmes au-devant de la tyrannie ; pour tous que luise enfin le jour des justices du Seigneur, mais bien plutôt s’il se peut, tout est possible à Dieu, celui de sa miséricorde, assez puissante pour changer les bourreaux sans frustrer leurs victimes. Serait-il donc arrêté que le poids des crimes d’un grand empire a trop fait pencher la balance du côté de la condamnation, pour que ses chefs ouvrent maintenant les yeux, et comprennent quel rôle pourrait être le leur en l’état présent du monde, si Pierre, qui leur tend les bras, voyait revenir à lui l’immense troupeau que paralyse le schisme ? Apôtres des Slaves, et en même temps citoyens de cette Rome où reposent près de celles de Clément vos reliques saintes, aidez les efforts du Pontife suprême cherchant à replacer sur la base où vous l’aviez établi l’édifice qui fut votre gloire.

[9] Psalm. XVIII, 2.

[10] Ibid. 4.

[11] II Tim. II, 21.

[12] Isai. XIV, 13.

[13] Jerem. I, 14 ; XLVII, 2 ; etc.

[14] Matth. XXVIII, 19.

[15] Prov. XXI, 28.

[16] Ibid. XVIII, 19.

[17] Luc. XI, 21-22.

[18] Isai. XLIX, 12, 18.

[19] Psalm. CXVI, 1.

[20] Philipp. II, 11.

[21] Latine, Grecque, Syriaque, Copte, Ethiopienne, Arménienne et Slavonne.

[22] Jer. XIII, 20-21.

[23] Apoc. II, 24.


Bhx cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

Voici deux célèbres missionnaires orientaux, qui toutefois appartiennent aussi à plus d’un titre à l’histoire de la Rome papale. En effet, les peuples slaves sont redevables à Cyrille et à Méthode de leur civilisation, de leur foi et, plus encore, de leur primitive communion avec la Chaire de Pierre, communion qui a laissé dans l’histoire des traces nombreuses et indélébiles. Aujourd’hui encore, le pèlerin slave qui arrive à Rome et va se prosterner sur le tombeau du Prince des Apôtres y voit un tableau représentant le Sauveur entre les saints Pierre et Paul. Or cette icône vénérée sur laquelle est tracée une inscription slave fut, dit-on, déposée là par les saints Cyrille et Méthode, en hommage de leur dévotion au Siège apostolique.

On connaît la vie des deux frères. Au temps d’Hadrien II, Rome les vit entrer triomphalement dans ses murs, suivis d’une troupe choisie de disciples chargés d’un précieux fardeau : les reliques du martyr Clément trouvées par eux en Chersonèse.

Cyrille et Méthode justifièrent devant le concile romain leur mission, et reçurent la consécration épiscopale des mains du Pape. Cependant les difficultés soulevées contre eux par leurs adversaires furent loin d’être légères ; si bien que Cyrille (appelé d’abord Constantin), à bout de forces, préféra abandonner à son frère le soin de la mission slave et rester à Rome à l’ombre de Saint-Clément, où il prépara son propre tombeau. La mort ne tarda pas à l’atteindre, le 14 février 869, âgé seulement de quarante-deux ans. De son sépulcre primitif, dans le narthex du titulus clementis, il reste une peinture intéressante. L’âme de l’apôtre défunt est présentée au Juge suprême par ses saints protecteurs. Michel et Gabriel, l’apôtre André et Clément entourent le trône divin, tandis que Méthode élève, suppliant, le calice eucharistique pour le repos de l’âme de son frère Cyrille.

Une autre peinture évoque également Cyrille et Méthode dans le titulus clementis. Elle se trouve elle aussi dans le narthex, à gauche de la porte, et représente la translation du corps du martyr Clément dans la basilique qui porte son nom. Derrière le cercueil porté par des diacres, marche d’abord le pape Nicolas Ier avec les deux frères Cyrille et Méthode, à droite et à gauche. Le Pontife est revêtu de la chasuble et du pallium, et son front est couronné du regnum ; tandis que les apôtres des Slaves ont une simple chasuble sous laquelle descendent, sur la tunique, les bandes de l’étole. Deux clercs portent les férules épiscopales des deux frères, et le Pape n’en a pas. Il est remarquable que le nimbe rond orne seulement la tête de Nicolas et de saint Cyrille ; on s’explique d’ailleurs facilement l’absence de ce signe de vénération liturgique autour de la tête de Méthode. Le peintre romain du XIe siècle n’avait connaissance que de la vénération dont était l’objet dans la Ville la mémoire de Nicolas Ier et de Cyrille, et il ignorait entièrement le sort de l’autre apôtre des Slaves mort en 885 en Moravie.

Un troisième monument très important existait autrefois à Rome, et se rapportait à l’apostolat slave des deux saints Évêques et à l’œuvre zélée de missionnaire qu’avait aussi accomplie chez les Bulgares le pape Formose avant de monter sur la Chaire apostolique. Il s’agit de l’oratoire de Saint-Laurent supra sanctum clementem, aménagé dans les constructions du Cœlius qui jadis supportaient le grand temple de Claude. Là, en 1689, Ciampini découvrit pour la première fois une abside peinte où l’on voyait le Sauveur entre les deux Princes des Apôtres Pierre et Paul, Laurent et Hippolyte. Le Seigneur donnait à Pierre le volume de la Loi, et on lisait ces mots :

DÑUS (le)GEM (dat) [24]

L’on voyait aussi le pape Formose et le roi des Bulgares, Michel, prosternés devant lui, dans l’attitude de l’adoration.

Ce Michel est le même que Boris ou Bogoris, premier roi chrétien des Bulgares, qui, converti à la foi par saint Méthode, attira au Christ presque tout son peuple.

Pour ne pas communiquer avec l’intrus Photius de Constantinople, Boris envoya des messagers au pape Nicolas Ier dont, en 867, il reçut la célèbre lettre répondant à ses questions. Boris échangea par la suite le diadème royal pour le froc monastique et mourut saintement dans l’état religieux le 2 mai 907. Chez les Bulgares il est honoré du culte liturgique des saints.

Nous devons mentionner ici cinq autres personnages, tous disciples et coadjuteurs des saints Cyrille et Méthode dans l’évangélisation des Bulgares.

Saint Nahum, avant de s’associer à l’évêque Clément pour convertir la Bulgarie, aida dans leur mission les saints Cyrille et Méthode. Il travailla avec eux à la traduction des livres liturgiques en slave, et alla avec les deux saints à Rome voir le pape Hadrien II.

Saint Clément partagea à l’origine les travaux et les persécutions des deux frères apôtres de la Moravie ; chassé ensuite également de la Pannonie, il entra en Bulgarie et mourut en 916 évêque de Tibériopolis.

Saint Gorazd succéda en 885 à Méthode en qualité de métropolite de la Moravie et de la Pannonie. Chassé l’année suivante, l’exilé porta son activité missionnaire chez les Bulgares ; dans cette entreprise il eut pour imitateurs Sabba et Angelaire, dont on sait seulement qu’ils étaient l’objet d’un culte liturgique.

La fête des saints Cyrille et Méthode ne fut introduite dans le Missel romain que par Léon XIII. La messe Sacerdótes est la même que pour la translation de saint Léon le Grand le 28 juin (voir la fête de St Léon II), sauf les particularités suivantes.

Voici la première collecte : « Seigneur tout-puissant et éternel qui avez daigné appeler à la lumière de votre Nom les peuples slaves grâce à l’œuvre des saints Pontifes Cyrille et Méthode ; faites que, comme aujourd’hui nous célébrons leur fête, ainsi un jour nous soyons admis au ciel dans leur heureuse société ».

La lecture évangélique est la même que le 25 avril pour la fête de saint Marc. La vertu de l’apostolat est un des charismes qui distingue toujours la véritable Église de Jésus-Christ dont la mission est en effet de continuer le ministère évangélique du Verbe de Dieu fait chair.

Seule l’Église catholique a ce droit et cette charge, car c’est à elle qu’il fut dit en la personne des Apôtres : Euntes, docete omnes gentes [25].

L’antienne pour l’offrande des oblations par les fidèles est la même que le 22 janvier.

Suit la collecte sur les oblations : « Regardez, Seigneur, nos prières et les offrandes de vos fidèles ; afin qu’en ce jour de la fête de vos saints elles vous soient agréables et nous obtiennent le secours de votre propitiation ».

L’antienne pour la Communion du peuple est semblable à celle du 15 février. Les Apôtres accomplissent exactement tout ce que leur prescrivit le Divin Sauveur, et ils annoncent sans crainte à toutes les nations de la terre la doctrine évangélique qui leur a été enseignée dans les étroites limites des rives du lac de Tibériade, en Galilée et en Judée.

Voici la collecte d’action de grâces après la Communion : « Par l’intercession de vos saints Cyrille et Méthode, accordez-nous, Seigneur, que, élevés à la grâce du don céleste, nous apprenions à mépriser les choses caduques et terrestres ».

La divine Eucharistie n’est pas seulement l’antidote contre les péchés commis, elle est aussi un levier puissant attirant l’âme vers le ciel. On peut la comparer à ce jet d’eau dont parle l’Évangile qui s’élève impétueux. Ainsi parlait de lui-même saint Ignace d’Antioche : Je sens en moi quelque chose qui me soulève, tandis que résonne à mes oreilles comme une voix qui me dit : viens au Père.

[24] Le Seigneur donne la loi.

[25] Matth. 28, 19 : Allez enseigner toutes les nations.


Dom Pius Parsch, Le Guide dans l’année liturgique

Qu’ils sont beaux les pas de ceux qui annoncent la paix !

1. Les Saints. — Jour de leur mort : saint Cyrille : 14 février 869 ; saint Méthode : 6 avril 885. Tombeau : saint Cyrille : à Saint-Clément de Rome ; saint Méthode : à Velehrad (Tchécoslovaquie), dans l’église Notre-Dame, Vie : Les deux saints sont les apôtres des Slaves ; frères germains, ils étaient originaires de Thessalonique ; après avoir fait de solides études, ils furent envoyés par l’empereur d’Orient, Michel III (842-856), dans le royaume de Grande-Moravie et ils convertirent les peuples slaves au prix de nombreuses peines et de grandes difficultés dont ils triomphèrent ; ils traduisirent la Sainte Écriture en langue slave et inventèrent des caractères d’écriture (appelés glagolitiques) qui sont encore en usage aujourd’hui dans certaines liturgies orientales. En 867, les deux frères vinrent à Rome et le pape Adrien II (867-872) se porta à leur rencontre avec un imposant cortège. Ils rendirent compte de leur apostolat ; mais la jalousie leur suscita dans les rangs du clergé une opposition, motivée, soi-disant, par leurs innovations en matière liturgique. Ils justifièrent leur conduite et reçurent des mains du pape lui-même la consécration épiscopale (868). Peu de temps après. Cyrille mourait à Rome, âgé de 42 ans ; son corps fut déposé d’abord dans le tombeau d’Adrien II, puis plus tard dans l’église Saint-Clément où il repose encore aujourd’hui. Ses funérailles eurent l’éclat d’un cortège triomphal. Méthode retourna en Moravie et évangélisa les Hongrois, les Bulgares, les Dalmates et les Carinthiens. Victime de nouvelles suspicions, il se rendit à Rome où il justifia l’usage de la langue slave dans les offices liturgiques. Le Pape lui conféra la dignité d’archevêque. A son retour en Moravie, il convertit le duc de Bohême et son épouse, répandit la foi en Bohême et en Pologne ; puis, après avoir érigé le siège épiscopal du Lemberg, il serait allé à Moscou et aurait fondé l’évêché de Kiev. Il mourut à son retour en Moravie et fut solennellement enterré dans l’église Notre-Dame, à Velehrad.

2. La Messe (Sacerdotes) est empruntée en partie au commun des confesseurs pontifes ; le reste est propre. C’est avec intention que dans toutes ses parties la messe parle des saints au pluriel, étant donné qu’elle est célébrée en l’honneur de deux saints (la liturgie tient compte même de détails aussi minimes) : voir Introït, Épître, Graduel, Évangile, Offertoire. — L’avant-messe honore nos saints comme évêques qui tiennent leur dignité du Christ, souverain prêtre (Épître, Alléluia). Cette pensée donne à la messe actuelle un sens singulièrement profond : le Christ, souverain prêtre, offre son sacrifice et, en union avec lui, les deux saints évêques offrent le sacrifice de leur vie ; le prêtre tient à l’autel la place du Christ et des saints, et le corps sacerdotal s’unit à ce sacrifice.

L’Évangile qui raconte la mission des 72 disciples évoque l’apostolat missionnaire des deux saints. La même remarque s’applique aux antiennes de l’offertoire et de la communion. Nous admirons les succès des deux apôtres des Slaves et nous glorifions Dieu à cause des merveilles qu’il a opérées dans ses saints (Offert.) ; nous apprenons aussi où ces saints ont puisé leur force : c’est dans le silence et l’obscurité de la messe matinale que le Christ leur parle (Comm.).

La liturgie se plaît à célébrer ainsi les apôtres des différents peuples convertis au Christianisme ; aujourd’hui nous voyons sur l’arbre de l’Église la puissante branche de la chrétienté slave ; la messe d’aujourd’hui est un sacrifice d’action de grâces et de supplication : Action de grâces, parce que les Slaves sont par nature religieux et attachés au Christianisme ; Supplication, parce que beaucoup de Slaves — ils atteignent les cent millions — sont séparés de l’unité de l’Église. Puisse le peuple russe, si profondément croyant, qui supporte actuellement la plus dure des épreuves, retrouver le chemin de l’unique bercail ! Puisse le peuple tchèque lui aussi triompher de sa pénible crise religieuse !

SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/Ss-Cyrille-et-Methode-7-juillet



Sts. Cyril and Methodius

(Or CONSTANTINE and METHODIUS).

These brothers, the Apostles of the Slavs, were born in Thessalonica, in 827 and 826 respectively. Though belonging to a senatorial family they renounced secular honours and became priests. They were living in amonastery on the Bosphorous, when the Khazars sent to Constantinople for a Christian teacher. Cyril was selected and was accompanied by his brother. They learned the Khazar language and converted many of the people. Soon after the Khazar mission there was a request from the Moravians for a preacher of the Gospel.German missionaries had already laboured among them, but without success. The Moravians wished a teacher who could instruct them and conduct Divine service in the Slavonic tongue. On account of their acquaintance with the language, Cyril and Methodius were chosen for their work. In preparation for it Cyril invented an alphabet and, with the help of Methodius, translated the Gospels and the necessary liturgical books into Slavonic. They went to Moravia in 863, and laboured for four and a half years. Despite their success, they were regarded by theGermans with distrust, first because they had come from Constantinople where schism was rife, and again because they held the Church services in the Slavonic language. On this account the brothers were summoned toRome by Nicholas I, who died, however, before their arrival. His successor, Adrian II, received them kindly. Convinced of their orthodoxy, he commended their missionary activity, sanctioned the Slavonic Liturgy, andordained Cyril and Methodius bishops. Cyril, however, was not to return to Moravia. He died in Rome, 4 Feb., 869.

At the request of the Moravian princes, Rastislav and Svatopluk, and the Slav Prince Kocel of Pannonia, Adrian IIformed an Archdiocese of Moravia and Pannonia, made it independent of the German Church, and appointed Methodius archbishop. In 870 King Louis and the German bishops summoned Methodius to a synod at Ratisbon. Here he was deposed and condemned to prison. After three years he was liberated at the command of Pope John VIII and reinstated as Archbishop of Moravia. He zealously endeavoured to spread the Faith among theBohemians, and also among the Poles in Northern Moravia. Soon, however, he was summoned to Rome again in consequence of the allegations of the German priest Wiching, who impugned his orthodoxy, and objected to the use of Slavonic in the liturgy. But John VIII, after an inquiry, sanctioned the Slavonic Liturgy, decreeing, however, that in the Mass the Gospel should be read first in Latin and then in Slavonic. Wiching, in the meantime, had been nominated one of the suffragan bishops of Methodius. He continued to oppose hismetropolitan, going so far as to produce spurious papal letters. The pope, however, assured Methodius that they were false. Methodius went to Constantinople about this time, and with the assistance of several priests, he completed the translation of the Holy Scriptures, with the exception of the Books of Machabees. He translated also the "Nomocanon", i.e. the Greek ecclesiastico-civil law. The enemies of Methodius did not cease to antagonize him. His health was worn out from the long struggle, and he died 6 April, 885, recommending as hissuccessor Gorazd, a Moravian Slav who had been his disciple.

Formerly the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius was celebrated in Bohemia and Moravia on 9 March; but Pius IXchanged the date to 5 July. Leo XIII, by his Encyclical "Grande Munus" of 30 September, 1880, extended thefeast to the universal Church. [Note: The feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius is currently celebrated on February 14 in the Latin Church.]


Abraham, Ladislas. "Sts. Cyril and Methodius." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company,1908. 14 Feb. 2016 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04592a.htm>.



SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS

Cyril and Methodius were brothers who became evangelists to the Slavic people. There were born in Thessalonica, Greece, of a well to do family . Cyril went to school in Constantinople and later became a professor in that city. Methodius was a governor in Slavic territory. Methodius entered into a monastery. Together they travelled Russia and worked on converting the Khazars to the Catholic faith. Cyril and Methodius invented the Cyrillic language which in the language used in Russia and other Slavic countries. Pope Adrian II (reigned 858-867) approved their mission among the Slavic people.

Cyril died in Rome on Febraury 14, 869 after being ordained. Methodius became the archbishop of Velebrod in the Czech Republic. Methodius had made enemies in Germany due to the jealousy of German bishops and in 870 Methodius was imprisoned by King Louis of Germany and was imprisoned for two years before being released through the intervention of Pope John VIII. Methodius and Cyril tranlated the Scriptures into the Cyrilic language. The liturgical language of the Slavic people was created by Cyril and Methodius.


Veneration of SS. Cyril and Methodius

Only fifty years after the death of the Apostles of the Slavs did Pope John IX (914-328) canonize them. However, devotion to them did not become universal until 1880, when Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) extended the feast of SS. Cyril and Methodius to the Catholic Church as a whole by his encyclical "Grande Munus."

The Slavs initiated the veneration of their Apostles, right after their death. But because of the adverse political and religious climate over the centuries, they were forgotten. It was not until the Cyrillo-Methodian millennial celebrations, at the end of the last century, that devotion to the saintly Brothers was once again restored.

Unfortunately, this restoration coincided with the millennial celebration of the Hungarians, who were determined to destroy our national life. They denounced the renewal of veneration of SS. Cyril and Methodius by our people, since "it could easily develop into a Slavic national holiday, of which on Hungarian territory there is no need" (cfr. art. "Oborona Kiriliki," in Naukovyj Zbirnyk Prosvity, Uzhorod 1936, p. 109). For this reason our magyarized clergy boycotted the feast and failed to perpetuate the veneration of the Slavic Apostles. Consequently, the Cyrillo-Methodian cult was not known in our Mukachevo and Prjashev Eparchies until after World War I.

St. Cyril "fell asleep in the Lord" on February 14, 869, after making his monastic vows. During his last illness he had "a heavenly vision" and began to sing: "My heart is glad and my soul rejoices, because they said to me: 'We will go up to the house of the Lord' (comp. Pss. 15:9; 121:1)."

As the hour of his death drew near, lifting up his hands to the Lord and weeping, he prayed:

"O Lord, my God, Who has created the Angelic Choirs and all the Heavenly Powers, Who brought all things from non-being to being, You always hear the prayers of those who do Your Holy Will and who in fear of You keep Your Commandments. Hear, therefore, O Lord, my humble prayer, preserve Your faithful flock You have entrusted to me, a humble and unworthy servant. Deliver them from the godless and heathen malice of those who blaspheme against You, destroy trilinguistic heresy, expand Your Church and keep her firmly united. Make Your chosen people unanimous in the profession of their Faith and inflame their hearts with the truth of Your Word. You bestowed on us a great favor by calling us to preach the Gospel of Your Christ and they (i.e. Methodius and his disciples) are now ready to do their good work pleasing to You. All those, whom You have placed in my care, I render up to You, since they are Yours. Guide them by Your strong right hand and protect them that all may praise and glorify Your Holy Name, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit Amen."

After having exchanged a kiss of peace with all present, St. Cyril continued: "Blessed be the Lord, Who did not leave us a prey to our enemies, but breaking their snares has set us free" (comp. Ps. 123:6-7). Saying these words, he expired.

St. Methodius intended to return his brother's remains to their native land, as they had promised their mother, but Pope Adrian II insisted that St. Cyril be buried in Rome. His relics were placed "on the right hand side of the main altar in the basilica of St. Clement and soon many miracles were reported." Grateful people "painted his image over his grave and burned candles in front of it." In this manner the veneration of St. Cyril began. (The above description of St. Cyril's death was taken from-the Slavic Life of Constantine).

With similar reverence and sobriety the Slavic Life of Methodius describes the death of the older brother, who ended his earthly pilgrimage on April 6, 885 and was buried in his cathedral at Velehrad, Moravia.

After having appointed one of his best disciples, the priest Gorazd, as his successor, St. Methodius became ill. Nevertheless, on Palm Sunday he went yet to church, where he bade farewell to the prince, the clergy, and the people. Three days later, uttering Christ's words: "Lord, into Your hands I commend my soul" (Lk. 23:46), he died surrounded by his clergy.

St. Methodius was buried with great solemnity in the presence of a great multitude, who accompanied his bier with the burning candles all the way to his resting place in the cathedral. Men and women, young and old, poor and rich, free and bonded, widows and orphans mourned their "Good Shepherd and Teacher" who truly had been "all things to all men, that he might save all" (comp. I Cor. 9:22).

As in Rome at the grave of St. Cyril, so also at Methodius' sepulchre in Velehrad many miracles were wrought. His resting place became the center for numerous pilgrims, who came from near and far to implore his intercession.

In a short time the veneration of the saintly Brothers became common among the Slavs. However, the Byzantine Church, which was their "Alma Mater," never inscribed their names into the diptychs of her Saints. For their fidelity to Rome, the Church of Constantinople completely ignored two of her most prominent sons.

Early devotion to SS. Cyril and Methodius can be proven by Slavic liturgical manuscript ("Sluzhby"), dating from the XI and XII centuries, but preserving much earlier tradition. They may have originated even at the end of the IXth century. There are services composed separately as well as some common offices in honor of St. Cyril and St. Methodius. The Slavists Lavrov, Pavic, and Kostic analyzed the offices preserved in Codex Zographensis and Menologion of Moscow, both from the XIIIth century and concluded, that they most probably were composed by the disciples of SS. Cyril and Methodius.

In the canon of the office honoring St. Methodius, Professors J. Pavic and D. Kostic independently discovered an acrostic, the first letters of which formed the sentence: "I sing of you well, Methodius!-Constantine." Thus the author of the Methodian Office would be Presbyter Constantine, who had come from Constantinople with the Brothers. Having been exiled from Moravia after the death of St. Methodius, he became bishop of Preslav, Bulgaria. The office must have been composed about 833, when Constantine became Bishop. It was written exactly according to the Byzantine pattern of liturgical veneration of a Saint.

From internal criteria and the somewhat corrupted acrostic of St. Cyril's office, Professor Kostic concluded, that it was most probably composed by his disciple Sava, at the end of the IXth century. The common office, as it can be derived from the internal criticism of text, was composed either in Bulgaria or Macedonia, during the tenth or eleventh century.

Parallel with the Byzantine-Slavonic offices Roman- Glagolitic offices were also composed in honor of SS. Cyril and Methodius, as early as the Xth century. They contain in their "Lectionaries" rich historical information on the life and work of the saintly Brothers. Written in the Glagolitic alphabet, these manuscripts more faithfully preserved the original text, although the manuscripts are dated from the XVth century (e.g. Glagolitic Breviary in the Vatican, dated 1465; another in Moscow's Lenin Museum, dated 1443). These copies were made from the manuscripts originating in Bohemia and later transferred to Croatia.

Because of Schism and the Byzantine influence, the Slavs ceased to venerate SS. Cyril and Methodius. It was only in the middle of the last century, under the influence of the Panslavic movement, that the Holy Synod of Moscow in 1863 restored the veneration of the Slavic Saints and reprinted their common office from an old Menea. Their common feast was established on May 11th, believed to be the day of Methodius' death (cfr. Bulgakov, Nastolnaja Kniga, Kharkov 1900, p. 167-168).

Pope Leo XIII, in 1880, ordered the feast of SS. Cyril and Methodius to be celebrated by the Catholic Church on July 5th. But in 1885, the Holy Synod on the occasion of the millennial celebrations of St. Methodius' death, issued the following liturgical decree for the Eastern Rite:

1) Since St. Methodius died on April 6 and not on May 11, his commemoration will be made in the Menologion on April 6th.

2) The 14th of February, the anniversary of St. Cyril's death and the 6th of April, the anniversary of St. Methodius' death, will be celebrated with the Polijelej.

3) The common commemoration of SS. Cyril and Methodius will be celebrated on May 11th, as a feast-day of middle solemnity.

4) The common office will be taken according to the services reprinted in 1869,'Sluzhba Prepodobnym Methodiju i Kirillu, Uchitelem Slovianskim' (cfr. Nikolskij, Ustav Bogosluzhenija, S. Peterburg 1900, p. 524-525)."

These changes were accepted by the Liturgical Commission in Rome and introduced into our Menologion, in 1950 (cfr. Chasoslov, Rome-Grotta Ferrata, 1350). They bind us today. We used to observe a Seminary Day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 11th as the feast of SS. Cyril and Methodius. We only hope that this practice will be revived again and spread among our people in the United States.

SOURCE : http://www.carpatho-rusyn.org/spirit/chap8.htm


Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Because their father was an officer in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs, these two Greek brothers, Sts. Cyril & Methodius, ultimately became missionaries, teachers and patrons of the Slavic peoples.

After a brilliant course of studies, Cyril (called Constantine until he became a monk shortly before his death) refused the governorship of a district such as his brother had accepted among the Slavic-speaking population. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk after some years in a governmental post.

A decisive change in their lives occurred when the Duke of Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) asked the Eastern Emperor Michael for political independence from German rule and ecclesiastical autonomy (having their own clergy and liturgy). Cyril and Methodius undertook the missionary task.

Cyril’s first work was to invent an alphabet, still used in some Eastern liturgies. His followers probably formed the Cyrillic alphabet (for example, modern Russian) from Greek capital letters. Together they translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul’s letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic, and composed a Slavonic liturgy, highly irregular then.

That and their free use of the vernacular in preaching led to opposition from the German clergy. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests, and Cyril was forced to appeal to Rome. On the visit to Rome, he and Methodius had the joy of seeing their new liturgy approved by Pope Adrian II. Cyril, long an invalid, died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit.

Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. He was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop and then given an ancient see (now in the Czech Republic). When much of their former territory was removed from their jurisdiction, the Bavarian bishops retaliated with a violent storm of accusation against Methodius. As a result, Emperor Louis the German exiled Methodius for three years. Pope John VIII secured his release.

The Frankish clergy, still smarting, continued their accusations, and Methodius had to go to Rome to defend himself against charges of heresy and uphold his use of the Slavonic liturgy. He was again vindicated.

Legend has it that in a feverish period of activity, Methodius translated the whole Bible into Slavonic in eight months. He died on Tuesday of Holy Week, surrounded by his disciples, in his cathedral church.

Opposition continued after his death, and the work of the brothers in Moravia was brought to an end and their disciples scattered. But the expulsions had the beneficial effect of spreading the spiritual, liturgical and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe (with Benedict).

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saints-cyril-methodius/

Cyril, Monk, and Methodius B (RM)

Born in Thessalonika, Greece; Cyril in 827, Methodius in 815 (some say 826); died respectively in Rome on February 14, 869 and probably at Stare Mesto (Velehrad, Czechoslovakia) on April 6, 884; feast day formerly on July 7 (or March 9); Pope John Paul II in 1981 declared them joint patrons of Europe with Saint Benedict.


". . . We pray Thee, Lord, give to us, Thy servants, in all time of our life on earth, a mind forgetful of past ill-will, a pure conscience and sincere thoughts, and a heart to love our brethren; for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord and only Savior."

--From the Coptic Liturgy of Saint Cyril.

Cyril and Methodius were brothers, born into a senatorial family, who both rose to high positions in the world--Methodius became governor of a colony in the Slav province of Opsikion; Cyril, a leading philosopher at the University of Constantinople. Cyril, the younger of the two, was baptized Constantine and sent at an early age to study at the imperial university at Constantinople under Leo the Grammarian and Photius, was ordained deacon, and in time took over Photius's position at the university. Cyril also served as librarian at the church of Santa Sophia, where he earned the reputation and surname 'the Philosopher.' Methodius was also ordained. Both renounced the life of this world and went to live in a monastery on the Bosphorus.

In 861, Emperor Michael III sent Cyril deep into the Dnieper-Volga regions of Russia to convert the Khazars, who were Jews. His brother accompanied him. Both brothers were brilliant linguists and soon familiarized themselves with the Khazar language. They came back to their monastery after a successful mission, and Methodius became abbot of an important monastery in Greece.

Almost immediately (863) they were sent by the then Patriarch Photius of Constantinople to convert the Moravians at the request of Prince Rostislav. German missionaries had been unsuccessful in their attempts to convert the Moravians; Cyril and Methodius met with success because of their knowledge of the Slavonic tongue.

They invented an alphabet called glagolitic, which marked the beginning of Slavonic literature (the Cyrillic alphabet traditionally ascribed to Cyril was probably the work of his followers in Bulgaria, although both could have been inventions of Saint Cyril). Cyril, with the help of his brother, translated the liturgical books into Slavonic.

Meanwhile, they incurred the enmity of the German clergy because of their free use of Slavonic in Church services and because they were from Constantinople, which was suspect to many in the West because of the heresy rife in the East. Further, their missionary efforts were hampered by the refusal of the German bishop of Passau to ordain their candidates for the priesthood.

In Rome the pope had heard of their good work. Pope Nicholas I summoned them to meet him, but when they reached Rome he had died. The travelled at an unfortunate time; Photius had incurred excommunication (because he had been illegally appointed) and their liturgical use of Slavonic was strongly criticized. Nicholas's successor, Adrian II, received them warmly. They presented him with the alleged relics of Pope Saint Clement, which Cyril was said to have miraculously recovered from the sea in Crimea on his was back from the Khazars.

Adrian was convinced of their orthodoxy, approved their use of Slavonic in the liturgy, and was so delighted and impressed by Cyril and Methodius that he determined that they should be consecrated bishops. It is believed that before this could happen, Constantine became a monk at SS. Boniface and Alexus in Rome and took the name Cyril, but probably died before his consecration as bishop. He was buried in the beautiful church of San Clemente on the Coelian in Rome, where there is an ancient fresco depicting Cyril's funeral. (His earthly remains were discovered in the lower part of the church in 1880 and now lie in a chapel dedicated to him and his brother, set off the right aisle of this church.)
Methodius was consecrated bishop and struggled on alone, often in dangerously hostile lands. He bore a letter from the Holy See commending him as a man of "exact understanding and orthodoxy." At the request of Prince Kosel of Moravia and Pannonia, Pope Adrian revived the ancient archdiocese of Sirmium (now Mitrovitsa), consisting of Moravia and Pannonia, independent of the German hierarchy, and made Methodius archbishop at Velehrad, Czechoslovakia (I don't know which two of the countries this is now part of).

Although he was supported by the pope, many German bishops resented his work among the Moravians (and probably the loss of territory). King Ludwig (Louis the German), urged on by the bishops, deposed Methodius at a synod at Ratisbon (Regensburg) and actually imprisoned him for two years in 870. Pope John VIII secured his release and returned him to his see, but thought it politic to forbid his use of Slavonic in the liturgy, although Methodius was authorized to use it in preaching. At the same time John reminded the German bishops that Pannonia and the disposition of sees throughout Illyricum belonged to the Holy See.

During the following years, Methodius continued his work of evangelization in Moravia, but he made an enemy of Rostislav's nephew, Svatopluk, who had driven his uncle out. Methodius rebuked Svatopluk for his wicked ways. Accordingly, in 878, the archbishop was reported to the Holy See for continuing to hold Mass in Slavonic and for heresy, in that he omitted the words "and the Son (filioque)" from the creed, which at that time had not been introduced everywhere in the West, not even in Rome. Methodius was summoned again to Rome in 879. John was convinced that he was not heterodox, and impressed by Methodius's arguments, again permitted the use of Slavonic in the Mass and public prayers.

Finally, Methodius returned to Constantinople to complete a translation of the Bible that he and Cyril had begun together. Methodius's struggle with the Germans continued throughout the balance of his life. Methodius was subjected to serious vexations, especially from his suffragan Bishop Wiching of Nitra, who was so unscrupulous as to forge a papal letter in his own favor. After Methodius's death, Wiching drove out his principal followers, including Saint Clement Slovensky, who took refuge in Bulgaria.

These two heroes of the faith are considered the "Apostles of the Slavs" or "of the Southern Slavs." Even today the liturgical language of the Russians, Serbians, Ukranians, and Bulgars is that designed by the two brothers. Their feast was extended to the universal Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1880. Methodius is regarded as a pioneer in the use of the vernacular in the liturgy and as a patron of ecumenism (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Schamoni, Walsh, White). In art, the two can be identified as an Oriental bishop and monk (anonymous Russian icon) holding up a church between them.

Sometimes Bulgarian converts surround them; at other times Methodius holds up a picture of the Last Judgement (Roeder). Cyril is sometimes portrayed in a long philosopher's coat (White). They are especially venerated by the Bulgarians (Roeder). Their patronage includes Europe and the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia (White).


SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0214.shtml

December 22

SS. Cyril and Methodius, Confessors


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.” This is related by Anastasius the bibliothecarian, and the aforesaid error was condemned in the eighth general council. 1 The Chazari at that time desired baptism. These were a tribe of Turci, the most numerous and powerful nation of the Huns in European Scythia. In the sixth century they were divided into seven, sometimes into ten tribes, governed by so many independent chagans, that is, chams or kings. 2 They drove the Abares, and other nations of the Huns, from the banks of the Ethel, since called Volga, towards the Danube, in the reigns of the Emperors Mauricius and Tiberius, who both honoured them with their alliance, and two pompous embassies, described at large by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenetta, 3 and by Theophylactus Simocatta. The chazari, who descended from the Turci, 4 had possessed themselves of a territory near Germany, upon the banks of the Danube, which Porphyrogenetta describes in his time to have had the Bulgarians on the east, the Patzinacitæ (who came also from the Volga) on the north, Moravia on the west, and on the south the Scrobati, a tribe of Bulgarians settled in the mountains. This nation, by a solemn embassy, addressed themselves to the Emperor Michael III. and his pious mother Theodora, begging that some priests might be sent to instruct them in the faith, the empress sent for St. Ignatius, the patriarch, and by his advice and authority St. Cyril was charged with this important mission. This happened in the year 848, as Henschenius and Jos. Assemani prove; not in 843, as Cohlius writes. The language of the Chazari was not the Sclavonian, as Henschenius thinks, but that of the Huns or Turci, which was entirely different, says Assemani. That Cyril understood the Sclavonian, Greek, and Latin languages, is clear from the two histories of his life. That for this mission he learned also the Turcic, which was spoken by the Huns, Chazari, and Tartars, we cannot doubt. In a short time he instructed and baptized the cham, and his whole nation, and having settled his church under the care of able pastors, returned to Constantinople, absolutely refusing to accept any part of the great presents with which the prince would have honoured him.

The saint’s second mission was to the Bulgarians, in which his devout brother, Methodius, a monk, was his chief assistant. The Bulgari were a Scythian nation, not of the Huns, but of the Sclavi, whose language was quite different from that of the Turci and all the Huns. They seem to have been originally planted near the Volga, and to have retired at the same time with the Abaras upon the coming of the numerous swarm of the Turci from the coasts of the Caspian sea, under their cham Turaathus, as Evagrius, Theophanes, and Simocatta relate. The Bulgari are first mentioned near the Danube, about the year 634, when Cobratus their king, made an alliance with the emperor Heraclius against the Abares, as Theophanes and the patriarch Nicephorus inform us. The Servii were another nation of the Sclavi, who accompanied the Bulgari, and founded the kingdom of Servia. The Bulgari possessed themselves of the ancient Mysia and Dacia, on both sides of the Danube, now Wallachia, Moldavia, and part of Hungary. They came from the banks of the Volga, in the reign of Anastasius, and erected here a mighty kingdom. 5

The first seeds of the conversion of this barbarous nation were sown by certain Grecian captives taken at Adrianople, in the reign of the emperor Basil the Macedonian: but this great work was completed many years after by the following means. Boigoris, king of the Bulgarians, was inclined to the faith by the assiduous long persuasions of his sister, who had zealously embraced it at Constantinople, having been taken captive, and detained a long time in the court of the pious empress Theodora. But human motives hardened his heart till God was pleased to awaken him by a more powerful call. The prince, who was passionately fond of hunting, desired the emperor to procure him a picture which should be a curious hunting piece. Methodius, according to the custom of many devout monks of that age, employed himself in drawing pious pictures, and excelled in that art. He was, therefore, sent to the court of the king, who, having built a new palace, was desirous to adorn it with paintings. He gave the good monk an order to draw him some piece, which, by the very sight would strike terror into those that beheld it. Methodius, thinking nothing more awful than the general judgment, represented in the most lively colours, and with exquisite art, that awful scene, with kings, princes, and people standing promiscuously before the throne of the great Judge, who appeared armed with all the terrors of infinite majesty and justice, attended by angels: some were placed on the right hand, and others on the left. The moving sight, and still much more the explication of every part of this dreadful scene, strongly affected the mind of the king, who, from that moment, resolved to banish all other suggestions, and to be instructed in the faith: in which Methodius was ready to assist him. He was baptized by Greek priests, not at Constantinople, as some mistake, but in Bulgaria: for all our historians add, that upon the news that the king had been baptized in the night, the people took arms the next morning, and marched in open rebellion towards the palace. But the king, taking a little cross which he carried in his breast, put himself at the head of his guards, and easily defeated the rebels. At his baptism he took the name of Michael. In a short time his people imitated his example, and embraced the faith. 6 Pagi places the baptism of this king in 861. Baronius and Henschenius in 845. Joseph Assemani in 865. The newly converted king sent ambassadors to Pope Nicholas I., with letters and presents, begging instructions what more he ought to do. 7 The pope, with letters, sent legates to congratulate with him, in 867. The legates, being bishops, gave the sacrament of confirmation to those who had been baptized by the Greek priests, though these had before, according to the rite of their church, anointed them with chrism: which the Latins indeed have always done, but on the head, in baptism, not on the forehead. The same legates also taught the Bulgarians to fast on Saturdays: which points gave offence to Photius, who, in 866, had schismatically usurped the patriarchal see, and banished St. Ignatius. Some Bulgarians had been baptized in cases of necessity by laymen, and even by infidels. Pope Nicholas I. declared this baptism to be good and valid, and answered several other difficulties in the beginning of the year 867. 8 SS. Cyril and Methodius had laboured in the conversion of the Bulgarians, though jointly with several other priests, not only Greeks, but also Armenians: concerning whose different rites of discipline the Bulgarians consulted Pope Nicholas I. as he testifies in his answer. Our two saints passed from this country into Moravia, so called from a river of that name.

The first mention of the Moravians we find made in 825, by Pope Eugenius II. in an epistle to the bishop of Faviana, 9 now called Vienna, anciently Vindobona, in which he appoints the archbishop of Lorc (which see was since removed to Saltzburg) vicar of the apostolic see in that nation. The Moravians and Carinthians were Sclavonian nations which had seized on these countries. The latter were governed by dukes, the former by kings, having first chosen Samo, a Frenchman from Senogagus, a country near Brussels, who had valiantly defended them against the Avares or Huns of Pannonia, in 622. The most powerful of these kings was Swetopelech, whose kingdom extended to Pomerania, in the end of the seventh age, according to Assemani. Two contending dukes, Moymar and Priwina, or Prinnina, ruled in Moravia, in 850, though this country had been certainly subject to Charlemagne, no less than Bavaria and Pannonia, as Eginhard relates. Moymar being slain, Rastices, his nephew, received the crown of Moravia from Lewis, king of Germany, in 846. He is by Henschenius called also Suadopluch, but falsely, as Assemani proves from the annals of Fulda. This pious prince invited the two missionaries into Moravia, and was baptized by them, with a considerable part of his subjects, who had been inclined to think favourably of Christianity by the example of the Bavarians, whom St. Robert, bishop of Worms, and founder of the archbishopric of Saltzburg, had begun to convert to the faith. Rastices dying, his nephew and successor Swadopluch persecuted the church. Augustine, in his catalogue of the bishops of Olmutz 10 and Dubravius, 11 says St. Cyril was ordained first archbishop of the Moravians. 12 This latter relates that Boriway or Borivorius, duke of Bohemia, was converted by hearing Cyril and Methodius preach the faith, and, being baptized by the latter, he called him into Bohemia, where his wife Ludmilla, his children, and a great part of his people received the sacrament of regeneration, which, according to Cosmas of Prague, in his chronicle, happened in 894. St. Methodius founded at Prague the church of our Lady; another of SS. Peter and Paul, and many others over the kingdom. 13 The two brothers Cyril and Methodius are styled bishops of the Moravians in Muscovite calendars, and in the Roman Martyrology. But in the Polish Breviary and other monuments it is said that Cyril died a monk, and that only Methodius was consecrated archbishop after his brother’s death. And their second life, published by Henschenius, says expressly that the two brothers, being called by Pope Nicholas to Rome, upon their arrival found him dead, and Adrian II. pope: that Cyril put on the monastic habit, and died soon after in that city, before he received the episcopal consecration. And Pope John VIII. in 879, wrote as follows to the Moravians: “Methodius, your archbishop, ordained by our predecessor Adrian, and sent to you,” &c. Whereas he calls Cyril only the philosopher, of whom he writes to Count Sfentopulk, “The Sclavonian letters or alphabet invented by Constantine the philosopher, that the praises of God may be sung, we justly commend.” 14

From this testimony of John VIII. and the ancient lives of St. Cyril, it is evident that the Sclavonian alphabet was invented, not by St. Jerom, but by those two apostles of that nation: 15 which is also related by an ancient author, who wrote in 878, published by Freher. 16 Cyril and Methodius translated the liturgy into the Sclavonian tongue, and instituted mass to be said in the same. The archbishop of Saltzburg and the archbishop of Mentz, jointly with their suffragans, wrote two letters, still extant, to pope John VIII. to complain of this novelty introduced by the archbishop Methodius. Hereupon the pope, in 878, by two letters, one addressed to Tuvantarus, count of Moravia, and the other to Methodius, whom he styles archbishop of Pannonia, cited the latter to come to Rome, forbidding him in the mean time to say mass in a barbarous tongue. Methodius obeyed, and, repairing to Rome, gave ample satisfaction to the pope, who confirmed to him the privileges of the archiepiscopal see of the Moravians, declared him exempt from all dependence on the archbishop of Saltzburg, and approved for the Sclavonians the use of the liturgy and breviary in their own tongue, as he testifies in his letter to Count Sfendopulk, still extant. 17 It is clear from the letters of Pope John, and from the two lives of this saint, that this affair had never been discussed either by Pope Nicholas or Pope Adrian, as Bona and some others have mistaken. The Sclavonian tongue is to this day used in the liturgy in that church. The Sclavonian missal was revised by an order of Urban VIII. in 1631, and his brief and approbation are prefixed to this missal printed at Rome, in 1745, at the expense of the Congregation De Propaganda Fide. By the same Congregation, in 1688, was printed at Rome, by order of Innocent XI. the Sclavonian breviary, with the brief of Innocent X. prefixed, by which it is approved and enjoined. 18 The Sclavonians celebrate the liturgy in this tongue at Leghorn, Aquileia, and in other parts of Italy.

When St. Methodius was returned from Rome he had much to suffer from the invective and opposition of some neighbouring bishop, perhaps of Passau or Saltzburg, in Bavaria. For St. Rodbert or Rupert, bishop of Worms, in 699, had converted the Boij or Baivarij, and having established the archbishopric of Juva, or Saltzburg, returned to Worms, and there St. Rupert’s successors, especially St. Virgilius, converted the Carinthians, who were also Sclavonians, 19 and their successors complained of the erection of the archbishopric of Moravia as a curtailing of their ancient jurisdiction. But Pope John VIII. supported the exemption of the archbishopric of Moravia, and justified the conduct of St. Methodius. Hearing of the persecution he met with from the neighbouring bishops, he wrote to him in 881, congratulating with him upon the success of his labours and the purity of his faith, tenderly exhorting him to patience, and to overcome evil with good, and promising to support him in his dignity, and in all his undertakings for the honour of God. 20 St. Methodius planted the faith with such success, that the nations which he cultivated with his labours became models of fervour and zeal. Boigoris or Michael, the first Christian king of Bulgaria, renounced his crown about the year 880, and putting on the monastic habit, led an angelical life on earth. Stredowski, in his Sacra Moraviæ Historia, styles SS. Cyril and Methodius the apostles of Moravia, Upper Bohemia, Silesia, Cazria, Croatia, Circassia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Russia, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Dacia, Carinthia, Carniola, and of almost all the Sclavonian nations. St. Methodius lived to an advanced old age, though the year of his death is not certain. The Greeks and Muscovites honour St. Cyril on the 14th of February; and St. Methodius on the 11th of May. The Roman Martyrology joins them both together on the 9th of March. Dubravius and others attribute to them many miracles; which Baronius also mentions in his notes on the Roman Martyrology. He adds, that the relics of these two brothers were lately found under the altar of a very ancient chapel in the church of St. Clement in Rome, and are still honourably preserved in that church. Octavius Panciroli, in Thesauris absconditis Almæ Urbis, and Henschenius say the same; but the latter shows that some small portions have been translated into Moravia, and are enshrined in the collegiate church at Brune. See the two lives of SS. Cyril and Methodius, published by Henschenius ad diem 9 Martij. See also Kohlius in Historia Codicis sacri Sclavonici, and in his Introductio in Historiam et Rem literariam Sclavorum. Altonaviæ, 1729. Also at length Stredowski, in Sacra Moraviæ Historia, Kulcynzki, Specimen Eccl. Ruthenicæ, 1733.

Note 1. Can. 11, Conc. t. 8, p, 1132. [back]

Note 2. Jos. Assem. Orig. Eccl. Slav. t. 2 et 3. [back]

Note 3. Pandextæ Hist. de Legationibus, p. 161. [back]

Note 4. From these ancient Turci among the Huns in Sythia, some think the Turks among the Oygyzian Tartars in Asia to be descended; likewise the Tartars of Crimea. But Constantine Porphyrogenetta (l. de regendo imperio ad Romanum filium) and other Byzantine writers, call also the Hungari, and other northern nations, whether of Europe or Asia, by the same name, Turci. [back]

Note 5. Their kingdom flourished till John, their last king, being slain in 1018, Basil II. added Bulgaria to the empire: upon which also the Chazari, Patzinacæ, and Croats voluntarily submitted to him. [back]

Note 6. See the two lives of St. Cyril, Constantine Porphr. Curopalates, Cedrenus, Zonaras. [back]

Note 7. Anastas. Bibl. in Nicolao I. et ipse Nicolaus ep. 70. ad Hincmar, &c. [back]

Note 8. See his Responsa ad Consulta Bulgarorum, Conc. t. 7, p. 1542. [back]

Note 9. See Hansizius, in Germania Sacra, t. 1, p. 71. [back]

Note 10. Inter rerum Bohemic Scriptores Hannoviæ, 1632. [back]

Note 11. Hist. Bohemicæ, l. 4. [back]

Note 12. Moravia derives its name from the river Mahar, which, crossing this country, falls into the Danube near Poson, and gave the denomination of Mahar Sclavonians to those Sclavonians who settled in this province, conquered by Charlemagne, under whose successors several princes governed it. Bohemia took its name Beheim from the Boii, and retained it after the Marcomanni had expelled them, as Tacitus observes; also after a tribe of Sclavonians had expelled the latter, before Charlemagne’s troops subdued it in 805. See D’Anville, p. 37. The Boii passed into Boiaria, called in the country Bayer, in modern Latin Bavaria, ib. p. 45. Poland, called from Pole, a plain or open country, then not reaching beyond the Vistula, was conquered by Otho I., was subject to Otho III., St. Henry II., &c. became independent under elective dukes. A tribe of Sclavonians invaded it; but a very different language, which has several words derived from the Latin, reigns in Lithuania, Samogitia, and Prussia, which points out a nation of a different original. [back]

Note 13. The Sclavi, according to Kohlius, Kulcinius, Hofman, and Jos. Assemani, took their name from their military achievements or glory. Whence are derived the names Winceslas, Stanislas, Ladislas, &c. This was a modern name of a Sarmatian people who dwelt from the Sarmatian sea to the Palus Mæotis, and were in some kind of subjection to the Huns or Tartars. A numerous troop of those Sclavi swarming abroad, fell upon the north of Germany, and, expelling the Vandals, a Teutonic or German nation, &c. settled themselves in Pomerania, now Brandenburg, &c. Another numerous colony seized on Illyricum, subduing there the Goths, a German people, and Huns, about the time when Justinian filled the imperial throne, as Constantine Porphyrogenetta, Procopius, &c. testify. Salona, the capital of Dalmatia, being destroyed, two new cities arose which disputed the preeminence, Ragusa and Spalatum; the latter of which sprung and took its name from the palace of Dioclesian built there. (See Jos. Assemani, t. 3, p. 309. Bundurius in the history of his own country, Ragusa; and John Lucius, l. de regno Dalmatiæ et Creatiæ.) The Sclavi also acquired new settlements in Poland and Bohemia, as the affinity of the languages of those countries demonstrates. Helmoldus, in his Chronicon Sclavorum, (c. 1,) says, “The Danes and Suenones, or Swedes, whom we call Northmanni, inhabit the northern coast of the (Baltic) sea. But the southern coast is peopled by the Sclavi, among whom the first towards the east are the Russi, then the Poloni, who have on the north the Pruzi, on the south the Boemi, and those that are called Moravi and Carinthij.” Assemani demonstrates that the Sclavonians were original inhabitants of part of Scythia and Sarmatia; but strangers in Germany, Poland, Bohemia, Pannonia, Dalmatia, and Illyricum. (See his Origines Sclavorum, t. 2 et 3.) The Patzinacitæ were also Sclavonians by extraction, who, pouring down upon the borders of the empire, made themselves masters of part of the ancient Dacia, where they were often troublesome to the Roman and Greek emperors, till they were subdued by John Comnenus. Their name was by the Greeks softened into Ulahi, at present Valachi. (See Lucius de regno Dalmatiæ et Croatiæ, l. 6, c. 5. Allatius, &c.) Many derive the name Valachi from Italici; because in Valachia and Moldavia the language is a corrupted Latin like the modern Italian; for this people descended from Trajan’s broken legions and colonies of Ulpia Trajana and others, which that prince established here in his war against Decebalus, king of Dacia, when he built his bridge of wood over the Danube. The Valachian language has a mixture of Sclavonian and several Hungarian, Greek, and Turkish words. Zechus and Checus, who founded the Bohemian state about the year 650, were Sclavonians, and are said by some to have been brothers. [back]

Note 14. Ep. 194, ad Tuvantarum. [back]

Note 15. Ep. 247, ad Sfendopulchrum Comitem. [back]

Note 16. Inter Scriptor. Rerum Bohemic. See De Peysonnel, Observ. Histor. et Geogr. Paris, 1765. [back]

Note 17. See Hansizius, t. 1, Germ. Sacr. p. 163, et Assemani, Orig. Eccl. Sclavor. t. 3, p. 173, et Joan. VIII. ep. 247, ann. 880, ad Sfendopulchrum Comitem Moraviæ. [back]


Note 18. The Sclavonian tongue is the most extensive of any extant, except the Arabic. The Goths and Vandals were both Teutonic or German nations, though originally settled in the countries beyond the Baltic. Sclavonians have been only confounded with the Vandals; because they expelled that nation from several countries which they had conquered, and settled themselves in them. The Sclavonians were, on the contrary, of a different original, from Sarmatia, on the coasts of the Sarmatian sea, and the Sinus Codanus, or straits of the Sound and Belt in Denmark, to the Taurica Chersonesus. For the Finni or Vinni, in Finland, and the Venedi or Vendi, who, expelling the Vandals, inhabited the coast of Pomerania as far as Cimbrica Chersonesus, were Sclavonians from Sarmatia. These latter changed the German, i. e. the Vandalic, names of places, to substitute others of their own Sarmatian language, as Lubeck, Rostock, Wismar, Stargradt, &c. In like manner, when they reached Illyricum, they banished the Latin names of the towns Segeste, Delminium, Salone, Promona, Terponum, Metulium, &c., to give others of their own, Zagrabia, Cluz, Camenigrad, Bielograd, Norigrad, Cremen, &c., and in the rivers Naro and Jaum, which they called Reka and Dobra. Whence it is manifest that they were strangers, not original inhabitants, in Illyricum and Sclavonia. In St. Jerom’s time, Latin was the common language in Dalmatia and Illyricum: and this that father evidently means when he speaks of his own tongue.

  The Patainacites were a nation of the Venedi and Sclavonians, who took their name from the city of Posnania in Poland, as Leun-Clavius tells us: they were situate between the Volga and Circassia. About the year 800, the Uzes and Magdiars, from the coast of the Caspian sea about Usbeck, and the Cazares, from Taurica Chersonesus, all originally Turks or Huns from Great Tartary or Asiatic Scythia, drove out the Patzinacitæ, who fled between the Nieper and the Donn, and as far as the Danube, and penetrated into Walachia, Moldavia, and even Moravia; some time after, Bosnia became their last asylum, called from them by changing P. into B: in which province the language is a dialect of the Sclavonian. The Uzes and Magdiars succeeded them in Moldavia and Walachia, and penetrated into Transylvania and Hungary. The Uzes are the Housards at this day.

  The Bulgarians from the coast of the Caspian sea founded Great Bulgary on the banks of the Volga, from which river, or their capital city Bulgar, near its banks, their name is derived. They seized on Scythia Pontica, (separated by Constantine the Great,) the second or Oriental Mœsia near the Euxine sea. Upper Mœsia reached on the south banks of the Danube to the conflux of the Saave; and Dacia comprised the northern bank of the Danube from the Euxine sea, now Moldavia, Walachia, and Transylvania. Aurelian gave to the Daci also a territory on the south of the Danube, between the two Mœsias. These extended southwards to Mount Hæmus and Romania, which comprised the Thracian provinces of Europa, Hæmi Mons, and the coast of the Propontis to the Isle of Samothrace. The Bulgarians, who were Asiatic Scythians, took up the Sclavonian language in Sarmatia. The Servii were part of the Bulgarians who inhabited the country from the Saave to Nissa, on the confines of Bulgaria. This name was given them because, soon after their first settlement, they became subject to the Greek emperors. Bulgary was only conquered by the Emperor Basil in 1017, and again recovered its liberty. Amurath I. and Bajazet subjected it to the Turkish empire. Nicopolis, near the Danube, was its ancient capital; Sophia now enjoys that dignity: as of Servia Belgrade, i. e. in the Sclavonian language Bel Castle. Before the Romans distinguished Dacia and Mœsia, these countries about the Danube were called European Scythia, having been inhabited from Great Scythia in Asia, which Justin originally confined to the country between the Caspian and Euxine seas; from the Riphæan mountains to the river Halys, though the name was soon after extended to all great Tartary. Among these Scythians the Getæ inhabited the north bank of the Danube, near the Euxine sea, now Bessarabia.

  The Sclavonian tongue is used in the liturgy by the churches of Dalmatia and Illyricum, who follow the Latin rite; and by those of the Russians, Muscovites, and Bulgarians, who follow the Greek rite. And by this the Russian and Sclavonian rites are distinguished. The use of the Sclavonian language in the liturgy and office of the church is approved in the Synod of Zamosci, in 1720, under Clement XI., confirmed by Innocent XIII. and by Benedict XIV. Inter Plures. Const. 98, datâ an. 1744, in his Bullary, (t. 1, p. 376.) The second use of that tongue both in those Sclavonian churches which follow the Greek, and in those which follow the Latin rite was approved by John VIII., Urban VIII., Innocent X., and by Benedict XIV. (Const. 66, Et si dubitare non possumus, an. 1742, in his Bullar. t. 1, p. 217.) Whence in Moravia, Dalmatia, and Illyricum, in some places mass and the divine offices are celebrated in the Sclavonian tongue; in others in Latin, but in several of these, after the gospel has been read in Latin, it is again read to the people in a Sclavonian translation. (See Jos. Assemani, Præf. in t. 4, comm. in Kalendaria Univ. t. 4, par. 2, c. 4, p. 4416.) Pope Benedict XIV. confirms this approbation of the Sclavonian liturgy. (Const. Ex pastoraii munere, anno 1754.) As he had before confirmed the use of the Greek tongue in the liturgy and divine offices to the Italian Greeks, and Greek Melchites. Const. 57. Et si Pastoralis, and Const. 87. Demandatum cœlitus, in his Bullary, (t. 1, pp. 167, 290.) A synod held at Spalatro, under John, the archbishop of Salona (which see was soon after translated to Spalatro) and Maynard, the pope’s legate, about the year 1070, forbade the use of the Sclavonian tongue in the divine office, which decree was confirmed by Alexander II.; but this must be restrained to the churches lying towards Poland and Moravia, or it was never carried into execution. Even in the diocess of Spalatro itself ten chapters and collegiate churches, besides thirty parishes, celebrate mass and the divine office in the Sclavonian tongue, as we are assured by Orbinus, (n. 32,) quoted by Caraman, the learned archbishop of Jadra, (Diss. De Linguâ Sclavicâ literali in divinis celebrandis, n. 32.) The same is testified by Robert Sala, (Observationes ad Card. Bona Rer. Liturg. l. 1, c. 9, § 4, p. 152,) who adds, that in the aforesaid diocess only eight parishes use the Latin tongue in the church. Pope Gregory VII. forbade the use of the Sclavonian tongue in the mass, but to the Bohemians, (l. 7, ep. 2, ad Uratislaum Bohemiæ Ducem.) The grant of John VIII. for the sacred use of this tongue was obtained by St. Methodius after the death of his brother Cyril, and was never extended to Poland and Bohemia. Whence it was prohibited when some began to introduce it there, probably Moravian priests, whose kingdom was extinguished by the Turks, that is, Hungarians, in the tenth age, as Constantine Porphyrogenetta relates.

  Cardinal Bona, among other mistakes on this head, calls this Sclavonian the Illyrican tongue. (Liturg. l. 1, c. 9, § 4.) Whereas this name can only be given to the modern dialect of the Sclavonian now in use in that country. The Sclavonian which is allowed in the liturgy, is the ancient Sclavonian, mother of the modern dialects, and called the Sclavonian language of the schools or of the learned. “Idiomate, quod nunc Sclavum literale appellant,” says Benedict XIV., which Urban VIII. and Innocent X., &c., also express. Caraman, afterwards archbishop of Jadra, revised the Breviary and Missal of this rite, printed at Rome in 1741, according to the rules of the ancient Sclavonian tongue, of which a dictionary is extant for the use of their clergy, called Azbuquidarium, that is, Abecedarium. There is also a grammar of the same, composed by Smotriski, a Russian Basilian monk, printed at Vilna in 1619, and at Moscow in 1721, &c. How much the ancient Sclavonian, or that of the Litterati, differs from all the modern dialects derived from it, appears from specimens of them exhibited from the different translations of the Bible given by Le Long, (Bibl. Sacra, t. 1, art. 6, sect. i.–v. p. 435, &c.) and of the Lord’s Prayer given in the thirteen dialects of the Sclavonian tongue, (ibid.) and in Reland, (ad calcem partis iii. diss. Miscell.)

  The learned Car. Stanislas Hosius, bishop of Warmia in Poland, (Dial. De Sacro Vernacule Legendo,) observes, that though the Bohemians, Moravians, Poles, Muscovites, Russians, Bosnians, Servians, Croatians, Bulgarians, and some other nations use the Sclavonian tongue, (which is extended through one quarter of Europe,) yet these dialects differ so much, that a Pole understands no more of the language of a Dalmatian than a High German, or a native of Switzerland, understands the Low Dutch. This author thinks the Sclavonian the most extensive of all languages; but the Arabic reaches much further, being used not only by the Christians who inhabit Arabia, Syria, and Egypt, but also by the Mahometans in Asia, Africa, and a considerable part of Europe. The church, to prevent the frequent changes to which modern languages are subject, allows in her office only the Chaldaic or modern Hebrew, which is the ancient sacred language; the Greek, the language of the philosophers and all the Oriental schools; Latin, the language of the learned in the West; and the Sclavonian. Herbinius (de Religiosis Kioviensibus Chryptis) contends that it is a primitive language, being the mother of the Russian, Muscovite, Polish, Vandalic, Bohemian, Croatian, Dalmatian, Valachian, and Bulgarian. It is esteemed that it holds a middle place between the Hebrew and other Oriental languages, and those used in the West; and it suits all climates. Some add, that it seems most adapted of all others, to be made an universal language. Some have attributed the Sclavonian alphabet and translation of the Bible to St. Jerom, but erroneously. For the Latin was in his time the language of that country; and this St. Jerom calls his translation into his own tongue, as Banduri (Animadv. in Constant. Porphyrog. de administ. imper. p. 117,) takes notice. The Sclavonian letters have no affinity with the Gothic; but were invented by SS. Cyril and Methodius, who derived them from the large Greek alphabet. The Sclavonians have another alphabet of smaller characters for common use, particularly in esteem in Dalmatia, Carniola, and Istria; also a third alphabet almost wholly different, which they seem to have borrowed from the Croatians and Servians. This last is falsely ascribed to St. Jerom. (See Cohlij Introductio in Historiam Sclavorum; Jos. Assemani, l. 4.) Of all the Sclavonian dialects the Polish has been most cultivated. The Lithuanians are of a very different extraction, as their language, which is a dialect of the Sarmatian, demonstrates.

  N. B.—The particle ski, ending Polish names, signifies of, and corresponds to the French De, the German Von, the Dutch Van. Hence count Jablonski, is count of Jablon; Stredowski, of Stredow: and to add of or de, as is done by some, is a solecism. 
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Note 19. See Hansiz. German. Sacra, t. 2, p. 15; also Historia Conversionis Baivariorum et Carantanorum Sclavorum, published by Canisius, t. 2, et Du Chesne, Script. Franc. t. 2. See likewise the lives of St. Rupert, and the first archbishops of Saltzburg, published by Canisius, in his Lectiones Antiquæ. [back]

Note 20. John VIII. ep. 268, ad Meth. archiep. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume XII: December. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/12/222.html

Cyril, Monk, and Methodius B (RM)

Born in Thessalonika, Greece; Cyril in 827, Methodius in 815 (some say 826); died respectively in Rome on February 14, 869 and probably at Stare Mesto (Velehrad, Czechoslovakia) on April 6, 884; feast day formerly on July 7 (or March 9); Pope John Paul II in 1981 declared them joint patrons of Europe with Saint Benedict.


". . . We pray Thee, Lord, give to us, Thy servants, in all time of our life on earth, a mind forgetful of past ill-will, a pure conscience and sincere thoughts, and a heart to love our brethren; for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord and only Savior."

--From the Coptic Liturgy of Saint Cyril.

Cyril and Methodius were brothers, born into a senatorial family, who both rose to high positions in the world--Methodius became governor of a colony in the Slav province of Opsikion; Cyril, a leading philosopher at the University of Constantinople. Cyril, the younger of the two, was baptized Constantine and sent at an early age to study at the imperial university at Constantinople under Leo the Grammarian and Photius, was ordained deacon, and in time took over Photius's position at the university. Cyril also served as librarian at the church of Santa Sophia, where he earned the reputation and surname 'the Philosopher.' Methodius was also ordained. Both renounced the life of this world and went to live in a monastery on the Bosphorus.

In 861, Emperor Michael III sent Cyril deep into the Dnieper-Volga regions of Russia to convert the Khazars, who were Jews. His brother accompanied him. Both brothers were brilliant linguists and soon familiarized themselves with the Khazar language. They came back to their monastery after a successful mission, and Methodius became abbot of an important monastery in Greece.

Almost immediately (863) they were sent by the then Patriarch Photius of Constantinople to convert the Moravians at the request of Prince Rostislav. German missionaries had been unsuccessful in their attempts to convert the Moravians; Cyril and Methodius met with success because of their knowledge of the Slavonic tongue.

They invented an alphabet called glagolitic, which marked the beginning of Slavonic literature (the Cyrillic alphabet traditionally ascribed to Cyril was probably the work of his followers in Bulgaria, although both could have been inventions of Saint Cyril). Cyril, with the help of his brother, translated the liturgical books into Slavonic.

Meanwhile, they incurred the enmity of the German clergy because of their free use of Slavonic in Church services and because they were from Constantinople, which was suspect to many in the West because of the heresy rife in the East. Further, their missionary efforts were hampered by the refusal of the German bishop of Passau to ordain their candidates for the priesthood.

In Rome the pope had heard of their good work. Pope Nicholas I summoned them to meet him, but when they reached Rome he had died. The travelled at an unfortunate time; Photius had incurred excommunication (because he had been illegally appointed) and their liturgical use of Slavonic was strongly criticized. Nicholas's successor, Adrian II, received them warmly. They presented him with the alleged relics of Pope Saint Clement, which Cyril was said to have miraculously recovered from the sea in Crimea on his was back from the Khazars.

Adrian was convinced of their orthodoxy, approved their use of Slavonic in the liturgy, and was so delighted and impressed by Cyril and Methodius that he determined that they should be consecrated bishops. It is believed that before this could happen, Constantine became a monk at SS. Boniface and Alexus in Rome and took the name Cyril, but probably died before his consecration as bishop. He was buried in the beautiful church of San Clemente on the Coelian in Rome, where there is an ancient fresco depicting Cyril's funeral. (His earthly remains were discovered in the lower part of the church in 1880 and now lie in a chapel dedicated to him and his brother, set off the right aisle of this church.)
Methodius was consecrated bishop and struggled on alone, often in dangerously hostile lands. He bore a letter from the Holy See commending him as a man of "exact understanding and orthodoxy." At the request of Prince Kosel of Moravia and Pannonia, Pope Adrian revived the ancient archdiocese of Sirmium (now Mitrovitsa), consisting of Moravia and Pannonia, independent of the German hierarchy, and made Methodius archbishop at Velehrad, Czechoslovakia (I don't know which two of the countries this is now part of).

Although he was supported by the pope, many German bishops resented his work among the Moravians (and probably the loss of territory). King Ludwig (Louis the German), urged on by the bishops, deposed Methodius at a synod at Ratisbon (Regensburg) and actually imprisoned him for two years in 870. Pope John VIII secured his release and returned him to his see, but thought it politic to forbid his use of Slavonic in the liturgy, although Methodius was authorized to use it in preaching. At the same time John reminded the German bishops that Pannonia and the disposition of sees throughout Illyricum belonged to the Holy See.

During the following years, Methodius continued his work of evangelization in Moravia, but he made an enemy of Rostislav's nephew, Svatopluk, who had driven his uncle out. Methodius rebuked Svatopluk for his wicked ways. Accordingly, in 878, the archbishop was reported to the Holy See for continuing to hold Mass in Slavonic and for heresy, in that he omitted the words "and the Son (filioque)" from the creed, which at that time had not been introduced everywhere in the West, not even in Rome. Methodius was summoned again to Rome in 879. John was convinced that he was not heterodox, and impressed by Methodius's arguments, again permitted the use of Slavonic in the Mass and public prayers.

Finally, Methodius returned to Constantinople to complete a translation of the Bible that he and Cyril had begun together. Methodius's struggle with the Germans continued throughout the balance of his life. Methodius was subjected to serious vexations, especially from his suffragan Bishop Wiching of Nitra, who was so unscrupulous as to forge a papal letter in his own favor. After Methodius's death, Wiching drove out his principal followers, including Saint Clement Slovensky, who took refuge in Bulgaria.

These two heroes of the faith are considered the "Apostles of the Slavs" or "of the Southern Slavs." Even today the liturgical language of the Russians, Serbians, Ukranians, and Bulgars is that designed by the two brothers. Their feast was extended to the universal Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1880. Methodius is regarded as a pioneer in the use of the vernacular in the liturgy and as a patron of ecumenism (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Schamoni, Walsh, White). In art, the two can be identified as an Oriental bishop and monk (anonymous Russian icon) holding up a church between them.


Sometimes Bulgarian converts surround them; at other times Methodius holds up a picture of the Last Judgement (Roeder). Cyril is sometimes portrayed in a long philosopher's coat (White). They are especially venerated by the Bulgarians (Roeder). Their patronage includes Europe and the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia (White).

SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0214.shtml

Santi Cirillo e Metodio Apostoli degli Slavi


sec. IX

Cirillo e Metodio, fratelli nel sangue e nella fede, nati a Tessalonica (attuale Salonicco, Grecia) all’inizio del sec. IX, evangelizzarono i popoli della Pannonia e della Moravia. Crearono l’alfabeto slavo e tradussero in questa lingua la Scrittura e anche i testi della liturgia latina, per aprire ai nuovi popoli i tesori della parola di Dio e dei Sacramenti. Per questa missione apostolica sostennero prove e sofferenze di ogni genere. Papa Adriano II accreditò la loro opera, confermando la lingua slava per il servizio liturgico. Cirillo morì a Roma il 14 febbraio 869. Giovanni Paolo II con la lettera apostolica "Egregiae virtutis" del 31 dicembre 1980 li ha proclamati, insieme a San Benedetto abate, patroni d'Europa. (Mess. Rom.)

Patronato: Europa

Martirologio Romano: Memoria dei santi Cirillo, monaco, e Metodio, vescovo. Questi due fratelli di Salonicco, mandati in Moravia dal vescovo di Costantinopoli Fozio, vi predicarono la fede cristiana e crearono un alfabeto per tradurre i libri sacri dal greco in lingua slava. Venuti a Roma, Cirillo, il cui nome prima era Costantino, colpito da malattia, si fece monaco e in questo giorno si addormentò nel Signore. Metodio, invece, ordinato da papa Adriano II vescovo di Srijem, nell’odierna Croazia, evangelizzò la Pannonia senza lesinare fatiche, dovendo sopportare molti dissidi rivolti contro di lui, ma venendo sempre sostenuto dai Romani Pontefici; a Staré Mešto in Moravia, il 6 aprile, ricevette il compenso delle sue fatiche.

Vai alla scheda di:

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San CIRILLO, Monaco

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San METODIO, Vescovo



Santi CIRILLO e METODIO, patroni d’Europa

Non pochi sono i casi di fratelli venerati come santi dalla Chiesa, fra i quali vogliamo ricordare in particolare i patriarchi Mosè ed Aronne, gli apostoli Pietro ed Andrea, i martiri Cosma e Damiano, i protomartiri russi Boris e Gleb, Sant’Annibale Maria ed il Servo di Dio Francesco Maria Di Francia, San Paolo della Croce ed il Venerabile Giovanni Battista Danei, i Beati Giovanni Maria e Luigi Boccardo, i Venerabili Antonio e Marco Cavanis, i Servi di Dio Flavio e Gedeone Corrà. Papa Giovanni Paolo II, il 31 dicembre 1980 con la lettera apostolica "Egregiae virtutis" volle porre due fratelli, Cirillo e Metodio, quali patroni d’Europa insieme con San Benedetto, in quanto evangelizzatori dei popoli slavi e dunque della parte orientale del vecchio continente. Trattasi di due santi mai canonizzati dai papi, dei quali soltanto nel 1880 il pontefice Leone XIII aveva esteso il culto alla Chiesa universale.

Originari di Tessalonica, città greca a quel tempo facente parte dell'Impero Bizantino, Cirillo e Metodio evangelizzarono in particolar modo la Pannonia e la Moravia nel IX secolo. Poco notizie ci sono state però tramandate circa Cirillo e suo fratello Metodio. Sappiamo che Cirillo in realtà si chiamava Costantino ed adottò in seguito il nome Cirillo come monaco, verso il termine della sua vita. Ulteriori informazioni circa le loro attività sono pervenute sino a noi grazie a due “Vitæ”, redatte in paleoslavo, nota anche come “Leggende Pannoniche”. Si conservano inoltre le lettere che l’allora pontefice indirizzò a Metodio e la “Leggenda italica”, scritta in latino. Quest’ultima narra che a Velletri il vescovo Gauderico, devoto del papa San Clemente, le cui reliquie furono traslate in Italia proprio da Cirillo, volle redarre un resoconto sulla vita di quest'ultimo. A causa della innegabile scarsità di fonti storicamente attendibili, sono fiorite numerose leggende attorno alle figure di Cirillo e Metodio.

Nativi di Salonicco (in slavo Solun), rampolli di una nobile famiglia greca, loro padre Leone era drungario della città, posizione che gli conseguiva un elevato status sociale. Secondo la “Vita Cyrilli”, quest’ultimo era il più giovane di sette fratelli e già in tenera età pare avesse espresso il desiderio di dedicarsi interamente al perseguimento della sapienza. In giovane età si trasferì a Costantinopoli, ove intraprese gli studi teologici e filosofici. La tradizione vuole che tra i suoi precettori vi fu il celebre patriarca Fozio ed Anastasio Bibliotecario riferisce dell'amicizia che intercorreva fra i due, così come di una disputa dottrinaria verificatasi tra loro. La curiosità tipica di Cirillo dimostrava il suo eclettismo: egli coltivò infatti nozioni di astronomia, geometria, retorica e musica, ma fu nel campo della linguistica che poté dar prova del suo genio. Oltre al greco, Cirillo parlava infatti correntemente anche il latino, l'arabo e l'ebraico. Da Costantinopoli, l'imperatore inviò i due fratelli in varie missioni, anche presso gli Arabi: fu durante la missione presso i Càsari che Cirillo rinvenne le reliquie del papa San Clemente, un Vangelo ed un salterio scritti in lettere russe, come narra la “Vita Methodii”. La missione più importante che venne affidata a Cirillo e Metodio fu quella presso le popolazioni slave della Pannonia e della Moravia.

Il sovrano di Moravia, Rostislav, poi morto martire e venerato come santo, chiese all'imperatore bizantino di inviare missionari nelle sue terre, celando dietro motivazioni religiose anche il fattore politico della preoccupante presenza tedesca nel suo regno. Cirillo accettò volentieri l’invito e, giunto nella sua nuova terra di missione, incominciò a tradurre brani del Vangelo di Giovanni inventando un nuovo alfabeto, detto glagolitico (da “глаголь” che significa “parola”), oggi meglio noto come alfabeto cirillico. Probabilmente già da tempo si era cimentato nell’elaborazione di un alfabeto per la lingua slava. Non tardarono però a manifestarsi contrasti con il clero tedesco, primo evangelizzatore di quelle terre. Nel 867 Cirillo e Metodio si recarono a Roma per far ordinare sacerdoti i loro discepoli, ma forse la loro visita fu dettata da un’esplicita convocazione da parte del papa Adriano II insospettito dall’amicizia tra Cirillo e l’eretico Fozio. Ad ogni modo il pontefice riservò loro un'accoglienza positiva, ordinò prete Metodio ed approvò le loro traduzioni della Bibbia e dei testi liturgici in lingua slava. Inoltre Cirillo gli fece dono delle reliquie di San Clemente, da lui ritrovate in Crimea. Durante la permanenza nella Città Eterna, Cirillo si ammalò e morì: era il 14 febbraio 869. Venne sepolto proprio presso la basilica di San Clemente.

Metodio ritornò poi in Moravia, ma durante un successivo viaggio a Roma venne consacrato vescovo ed assegnato alla sede di Sirmiun (odierna Sremska Mitroviča). Quando in Moravia a Rostislav successe il nipote Sventopelk, favorevole alla presenza tedesca nel regno, iniziò così la persecuzione dei discepoli di Cirillo e Metodio, visti come portatori di un'eresia. Lo stesso Metodio fu detenuto per due anni in Baviera ed infine morì presso Velehrad, nel sud della Moravia, il 6 aprile 885. I suoi discepoli vennero incarcerati o venduti come schiavi a Venezia. Una parte di essi riuscì a fuggire nei Balcani e non a caso in Bulgaria si venerano come Sette Apostoli della nazione proprio Cirillo, Metodio ed i loro discepoli Clemente, Nahum, Saba, Gorazd ed Angelario, comunemente festeggiati al 27 luglio. Il Martyrologium Romanum ed il calendario liturgico dedicano invece ai fratelli Cirillo e Metodio la festa del 14 febbraio, nell’anniversario della morte del primo.

Se l’immane opera dei due fratelli di Tessalonica fu cancellata in Moravia, come detto trovò fortuna e proseguimento in terra bulgara, anche grazie al favore del sovrano San Boris Michele I, considerato “isapostolo”, che abbracciò il cristianesimo e ne fece la religione nazionale. La vastissima attività dei discepoli di Cirillo e Metodio in questo paese diede origine alla letteratura bulgara, ponendo così le basi della cultura scritta dei nuovi grandi stati russi. Il cirillico avvicinò moltissimo i bulgari e tutti i popoli slavi al mondo greco-bizantino: questo alfabeto si componeva di trentotto lettere, delle quali ben ventiquattro prese dall’alfabeto greco, mentre le altre appositamente ideate per la fonetica slava. Ciò comportò una grande facilità nel trapiantare in slavo l’enorme tradizione letteraria greca. La nuova lingua soppiantò ovunque il glagolitico e rese celebre sino ai giorni nostri il nome del suo ideatore.


DALLA “VITA” IN LINGUA SLAVA DI COSTANTINO

Costantino Cirillo, stanco dalle molte fatiche, cadde malato e sopportò il proprio male per molti giorni. Fu allora ricreato da una visione di Dio, e cominciò a cantare così: Quando mi dissero: «andremo alla casa del Signore», il mio spirito si è rallegrato e il mio cuore ha esultato (cfr. Sal 121, 1).
Dopo aver indossato le sacre vesti, rimase per tutto il giorno ricolmo di gioia e diceva: «Da questo momento non sono più servo né dell'imperatore né di alcun uomo sulla terra, ma solo di Dio onnipotente. Non esistevo, ma ora esisto ed esisterò in eterno. Amen».

Il giorno dopo vestì il santo abito monastico e aggiungendo luce a luce si impose il nome di Cirillo. Così vestito rimase cinquanta giorni.

Giunta l'ora della fine e di passare al riposo eterno, levate le mani a Dio, pregava tra le lacrime, dicendo: «Signore, Dio mio, che hai creato tutti gli ordini angelici e gli spiriti incorporei, che hai steso i cieli e resa ferma la terra e hai formato dal nulla tutte le cose che esistono, tu che ascolti sempre coloro che fanno la tua volontà e ti temono e osservano i tuoi precetti; ascolta la mia preghiera e conserva nella fede il tuo gregge, a capo del quale mettesti me, tuo servo indegno ed inetto.

Liberali dalla malizia empia e pagana di quelli che ti bestemmiano; fa' crescere di numero la tua Chiesa e raccogli tutti nell'unità.

Rendi santo, concorde nella vera fede e nella retta confessione il tuo popolo, e ispira nei cuori la parola della tua dottrina. E' tuo dono infatti l'averci scelti a predicare il Vangelo del tuo Cristo, a incitare i fratelli alle buone opere e a compiere quanto ti è gradito.

Quelli che mi hai dato, te li restituisco come tuoi; guidali ora con la tua forte destra, proteggili all'ombra delle tue ali, perché tutti lodino e glorifichino il tuo nome di Padre e Figlio e Spirito Santo. Amen».

Avendo poi baciato tutti col bacio santo, disse: «Benedetto Dio, che non ci ha dato in pasto ai denti dei nostri invisibili avversari, ma spezzò la loro rete e ci ha salvati dalla loro voglia di mandarci in rovina».

E così, all'età di quarantadue anni, si addormentò nel Signore.

Il papa comandò che tutti i Greci che erano a Roma e i Romani si riunissero portando ceri e cantando e che gli dedicassero onori funebri non diversi da quelli che avrebbero tributato al papa stesso; e così fu fatto.


INNO (dalla Liturgia delle Ore)

Risuoni nella Chiesa
da oriente ad occidente
l'ecumenica lode
di Cirillo e Metodio.

Maestri di Sapienza
e padri nella fede
splendono come fiaccole
sul cammino dei popoli.

Con la potenza inerme
della croce di Cristo
raccolsero le genti
nella luce del Regno.

Nella preghiera unanime
delle lingue diverse
si rinnovò il prodigio
della Chiesa nascente.

O Dio trino e unico,
a te l'incenso e il canto,
l'onore e la vittoria,
a te l'eterna gloria. Amen.


ORAZIONE

O Dio, ricco di misericordia,
che nella missione apostolica dei santi fratelli Cirillo e Metodio
hai donato ai popoli slavi la luce del Vangelo,
per la loro comune intercessione fa' che tutti gli uomini accolgano la tua parola
e formino il tuo popolo santo concorde nel testimoniare la vera fede.
Per il nostro Signore Gesù Cristo, tuo Figlio, che è Dio,
e vive e regna con te, nell’unità dello Spirito Santo,
per tutti i secoli dei secoli. Amen.

Autore:
Fabio Arduino

SOURCE : http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/22825

San Cirillo Monaco, apostolo degli Slavi


Tessalonica (attuale Salonicco), Grecia, inizio sec. IX - Roma, 14 febbraio 869

Cirillo e Metodio, fratelli nel sangue e nella fede, nati a Tessalonica (attuale Salonicco, Grecia) all’inizio del sec. IX, evangelizzarono i popoli della Pannonia e della Moravia. Crearono l’alfabeto slavo e tradussero in questa lingua la Scrittura e anche i testi della liturgia latina, per aprire ai nuovi popoli i tesori della parola di Dio e dei Sacramenti. Per questa missione apostolica sostennero prove e sofferenze di ogni genere. Papa Adriano II accreditò la loro opera, confermando la lingua slava per il servizio liturgico. Cirillo morì a Roma il 14 febbraio 869. Giovanni Paolo II con la lettera apostolica "Egregiae virtutis" del 31 dicembre 1980 li ha proclamati, insieme a San Benedetto abate, patroni d'Europa. (Mess. Rom.)
Patronato: Europa, Ecumenisti

Etimologia: Cirillo = che ha forza, signore, dal greco

Martirologio Romano: Memoria dei santi Cirillo, monaco, e Metodio, vescovo. Questi due fratelli di Salonicco, mandati in Moravia dal vescovo di Costantinopoli Fozio, vi predicarono la fede cristiana e crearono un alfabeto per tradurre i libri sacri dal greco in lingua slava. Venuti a Roma, Cirillo, il cui nome prima era Costantino, colpito da malattia, si fece monaco e in questo giorno si addormentò nel Signore. Metodio, invece, ordinato da papa Adriano II vescovo di Srijem, nell’odierna Croazia, evangelizzò la Pannonia senza lesinare fatiche, dovendo sopportare molti dissidi rivolti contro di lui, ma venendo sempre sostenuto dai Romani Pontefici; a Staré Mešto in Moravia, il 6 aprile, ricevette il compenso delle sue fatiche.

Santi CIRILLO e METODIO, patroni d’Europa

Non pochi sono i casi di fratelli venerati come santi dalla Chiesa, fra i quali vogliamo ricordare in particolare i patriarchi Mosè ed Aronne, gli apostoli Pietro ed Andrea, i martiri Cosma e Damiano, i protomartiri russi Boris e Gleb, Sant’Annibale Maria ed il Servo di Dio Francesco Maria Di Francia, San Paolo della Croce ed il Venerabile Giovanni Battista Danei, i Beati Giovanni Maria e Luigi Boccardo, i Venerabili Antonio e Marco Cavanis, i Servi di Dio Flavio e Gedeone Corrà. Papa Giovanni Paolo II, il 31 dicembre 1980 con la lettera apostolica "Egregiae virtutis" volle porre due fratelli, Cirillo e Metodio, quali patroni d’Europa insieme con San Benedetto, in quanto evangelizzatori dei popoli slavi e dunque della parte orientale del vecchio continente. Trattasi di due santi mai canonizzati dai papi, dei quali soltanto nel 1880 il pontefice Leone XIII aveva esteso il culto alla Chiesa universale.

Originari di Tessalonica, città greca a quel tempo facente parte dell'Impero Bizantino, Cirillo e Metodio evangelizzarono in particolar modo la Pannonia e la Moravia nel IX secolo. Poco notizie ci sono state però tramandate circa Cirillo e suo fratello Metodio. Sappiamo che Cirillo in realtà si chiamava Costantino ed adottò in seguito il nome Cirillo come monaco, verso il termine della sua vita. Ulteriori informazioni circa le loro attività sono pervenute sino a noi grazie a due “Vitæ”, redatte in paleoslavo, nota anche come “Leggende Pannoniche”. Si conservano inoltre le lettere che l’allora pontefice indirizzò a Metodio e la “Leggenda italica”, scritta in latino. Quest’ultima narra che a Velletri il vescovo Gauderico, devoto del papa San Clemente, le cui reliquie furono traslate in Italia proprio da Cirillo, volle redarre un resoconto sulla vita di quest'ultimo. A causa della innegabile scarsità di fonti storicamente attendibili, sono fiorite numerose leggende attorno alle figure di Cirillo e Metodio.

Nativi di Salonicco (in slavo Solun), rampolli di una nobile famiglia greca, loro padre Leone era drungario della città, posizione che gli conseguiva un elevato status sociale. Secondo la “Vita Cyrilli”, quest’ultimo era il più giovane di sette fratelli e già in tenera età pare avesse espresso il desiderio di dedicarsi interamente al perseguimento della sapienza. In giovane età si trasferì a Costantinopoli, ove intraprese gli studi teologici e filosofici. La tradizione vuole che tra i suoi precettori vi fu il celebre patriarca Fozio ed Anastasio Bibliotecario riferisce dell'amicizia che intercorreva fra i due, così come di una disputa dottrinaria verificatasi tra loro. La curiosità tipica di Cirillo dimostrava il suo eclettismo: egli coltivò infatti nozioni di astronomia, geometria, retorica e musica, ma fu nel campo della linguistica che poté dar prova del suo genio. Oltre al greco, Cirillo parlava infatti correntemente anche il latino, l'arabo e l'ebraico. Da Costantinopoli, l'imperatore inviò i due fratelli in varie missioni, anche presso gli Arabi: fu durante la missione presso i Càsari che Cirillo rinvenne le reliquie del papa San Clemente, un Vangelo ed un salterio scritti in lettere russe, come narra la “Vita Methodii”. La missione più importante che venne affidata a Cirillo e Metodio fu quella presso le popolazioni slave della Pannonia e della Moravia.

Il sovrano di Moravia, Rostislav, poi morto martire e venerato come santo, chiese all'imperatore bizantino di inviare missionari nelle sue terre, celando dietro motivazioni religiose anche il fattore politico della preoccupante presenza tedesca nel suo regno. Cirillo accettò volentieri l’invito e, giunto nella sua nuova terra di missione, incominciò a tradurre brani del Vangelo di Giovanni inventando un nuovo alfabeto, detto glagolitico (da “глаголь” che significa “parola”), oggi meglio noto come alfabeto cirillico. Probabilmente già da tempo si era cimentato nell’elaborazione di un alfabeto per la lingua slava. Non tardarono però a manifestarsi contrasti con il clero tedesco, primo evangelizzatore di quelle terre. Nel 867 Cirillo e Metodio si recarono a Roma per far ordinare sacerdoti i loro discepoli, ma forse la loro visita fu dettata da un’esplicita convocazione da parte del papa Adriano II insospettito dall’amicizia tra Cirillo e l’eretico Fozio. Ad ogni modo il pontefice riservò loro un'accoglienza positiva, ordinò prete Metodio ed approvò le loro traduzioni della Bibbia e dei testi liturgici in lingua slava. Inoltre Cirillo gli fece dono delle reliquie di San Clemente, da lui ritrovate in Crimea. Durante la permanenza nella Città Eterna, Cirillo si ammalò e morì: era il 14 febbraio 869. Venne sepolto proprio presso la basilica di San Clemente.

Metodio ritornò poi in Moravia, ma durante un successivo viaggio a Roma venne consacrato vescovo ed assegnato alla sede di Sirmiun (odierna Sremska Mitroviča). Quando in Moravia a Rostislav successe il nipote Sventopelk, favorevole alla presenza tedesca nel regno, iniziò così la persecuzione dei discepoli di Cirillo e Metodio, visti come portatori di un'eresia. Lo stesso Metodio fu detenuto per due anni in Baviera ed infine morì presso Velehrad, nel sud della Moravia, il 6 aprile 885. I suoi discepoli vennero incarcerati o venduti come schiavi a Venezia. Una parte di essi riuscì a fuggire nei Balcani e non a caso in Bulgaria si venerano come Sette Apostoli della nazione proprio Cirillo, Metodio ed i loro discepoli Clemente, Nahum, Saba, Gorazd ed Angelario, comunemente festeggiati al 27 luglio. Il Martyrologium Romanum ed il calendario liturgico dedicano invece ai fratelli Cirillo e Metodio la festa del 14 febbraio, nell’anniversario della morte del primo.

Se l’immane opera dei due fratelli di Tessalonica fu cancellata in Moravia, come detto trovò fortuna e proseguimento in terra bulgara, anche grazie al favore del sovrano San Boris Michele I, considerato “isapostolo”, che abbracciò il cristianesimo e ne fece la religione nazionale. La vastissima attività dei discepoli di Cirillo e Metodio in questo paese diede origine alla letteratura bulgara, ponendo così le basi della cultura scritta dei nuovi grandi stati russi. Il cirillico avvicinò moltissimo i bulgari e tutti i popoli slavi al mondo greco-bizantino: questo alfabeto si componeva di trentotto lettere, delle quali ben ventiquattro prese dall’alfabeto greco, mentre le altre appositamente ideate per la fonetica slava. Ciò comportò una grande facilità nel trapiantare in slavo l’enorme tradizione letteraria greca. La nuova lingua soppiantò ovunque il glagolitico e rese celebre sino ai giorni nostri il nome del suo ideatore.


DALLA “VITA” IN LINGUA SLAVA DI COSTANTINO


Costantino Cirillo, stanco dalle molte fatiche, cadde malato e sopportò il proprio male per molti giorni. Fu allora ricreato da una visione di Dio, e cominciò a cantare così: Quando mi dissero: «andremo alla casa del Signore», il mio spirito si è rallegrato e il mio cuore ha esultato (cfr. Sal 121, 1).

Dopo aver indossato le sacre vesti, rimase per tutto il giorno ricolmo di gioia e diceva: «Da questo momento non sono più servo né dell'imperatore né di alcun uomo sulla terra, ma solo di Dio onnipotente. Non esistevo, ma ora esisto ed esisterò in eterno. Amen».

Il giorno dopo vestì il santo abito monastico e aggiungendo luce a luce si impose il nome di Cirillo. Così vestito rimase cinquanta giorni.

Giunta l'ora della fine e di passare al riposo eterno, levate le mani a Dio, pregava tra le lacrime, dicendo: «Signore, Dio mio, che hai creato tutti gli ordini angelici e gli spiriti incorporei, che hai steso i cieli e resa ferma la terra e hai formato dal nulla tutte le cose che esistono, tu che ascolti sempre coloro che fanno la tua volontà e ti temono e osservano i tuoi precetti; ascolta la mia preghiera e conserva nella fede il tuo gregge, a capo del quale mettesti me, tuo servo indegno ed inetto.

Liberali dalla malizia empia e pagana di quelli che ti bestemmiano; fa' crescere di numero la tua Chiesa e raccogli tutti nell'unità.

Rendi santo, concorde nella vera fede e nella retta confessione il tuo popolo, e ispira nei cuori la parola della tua dottrina. E' tuo dono infatti l'averci scelti a predicare il Vangelo del tuo Cristo, a incitare i fratelli alle buone opere e a compiere quanto ti è gradito.

Quelli che mi hai dato, te li restituisco come tuoi; guidali ora con la tua forte destra, proteggili all'ombra delle tue ali, perché tutti lodino e glorifichino il tuo nome di Padre e Figlio e Spirito Santo. Amen».

Avendo poi baciato tutti col bacio santo, disse: «Benedetto Dio, che non ci ha dato in pasto ai denti dei nostri invisibili avversari, ma spezzò la loro rete e ci ha salvati dalla loro voglia di mandarci in rovina».

E così, all'età di quarantadue anni, si addormentò nel Signore.

Il papa comandò che tutti i Greci che erano a Roma e i Romani si riunissero portando ceri e cantando e che gli dedicassero onori funebri non diversi da quelli che avrebbero tributato al papa stesso; e così fu fatto.


INNO (dalla Liturgia delle Ore)


Risuoni nella Chiesa
da oriente ad occidente
l'ecumenica lode
di Cirillo e Metodio.

Maestri di Sapienza
e padri nella fede
splendono come fiaccole
sul cammino dei popoli.

Con la potenza inerme
della croce di Cristo
raccolsero le genti
nella luce del Regno.

Nella preghiera unanime
delle lingue diverse
si rinnovò il prodigio
della Chiesa nascente.

O Dio trino e unico,
a te l'incenso e il canto,
l'onore e la vittoria,
a te l'eterna gloria. Amen.


ORAZIONE

O Dio, ricco di misericordia,
che nella missione apostolica dei santi fratelli Cirillo e Metodio
hai donato ai popoli slavi la luce del Vangelo,
per la loro comune intercessione fa' che tutti gli uomini accolgano la tua parola
e formino il tuo popolo santo concorde nel testimoniare la vera fede.
Per il nostro Signore Gesù Cristo, tuo Figlio, che è Dio,
e vive e regna con te, nell’unità dello Spirito Santo,
per tutti i secoli dei secoli.
Amen.

Autore:
Fabio Arduino

SOURCE : http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/22800

San Metodio Vescovo, apostolo degli Slavi


Tessalonica (attuale Salonicco), Grecia, inizio sec. IX - Velehrad, Moravia, 6 aprile 885

Cirillo e Metodio, fratelli nel sangue e nella fede, nati a Tessalonica (attuale Salonicco, Grecia) all’inizio del sec. IX, evangelizzarono i popoli della Pannonia e della Moravia. Crearono l’alfabeto slavo e tradussero in questa lingua la Scrittura e anche i testi della liturgia latina, per aprire ai nuovi popoli i tesori della parola di Dio e dei Sacramenti. Per questa missione apostolica sostennero prove e sofferenze di ogni genere. Papa Adriano II accreditò la loro opera, confermando la lingua slava per il servizio liturgico. Metodio, consacrato vescovo di Sirmio (Jugoslavia) e nominato legato presso gli Slavi, morì a Velehrad (Cecoslovacchia) il 6 aprile 885. Giovanni Paolo II con la lettera apostolica "Egregiae virtutis" del 31 dicembre 1980 li ha proclamati, insieme a San Benedetto abate, patroni d'Europa. (Mess. Rom.)

Patronato: Europa, Ecumenisti

Emblema: Bastone pastorale

Martirologio Romano: Memoria dei santi Cirillo, monaco, e Metodio, vescovo. Questi due fratelli di Salonicco, mandati in Moravia dal vescovo di Costantinopoli Fozio, vi predicarono la fede cristiana e crearono un alfabeto per tradurre i libri sacri dal greco in lingua slava. Venuti a Roma, Cirillo, il cui nome prima era Costantino, colpito da malattia, si fece monaco e in questo giorno si addormentò nel Signore. Metodio, invece, ordinato da papa Adriano II vescovo di Srijem, nell’odierna Croazia, evangelizzò la Pannonia senza lesinare fatiche, dovendo sopportare molti dissidi rivolti contro di lui, ma venendo sempre sostenuto dai Romani Pontefici; a Staré Mešto in Moravia, il 6 aprile, ricevette il compenso delle sue fatiche.

(6 aprile: A Staré Mešto in Moravia, nei confini dell’odierna Slovacchia, anniversario della morte di san Metodio, vescovo, la cui memoria si celebra insieme a quella del fratello san Cirillo il 14 febbraio).

Santi CIRILLO e METODIO, patroni d’Europa

Non pochi sono i casi di fratelli venerati come santi dalla Chiesa, fra i quali vogliamo ricordare in particolare i patriarchi Mosè ed Aronne, gli apostoli Pietro ed Andrea, i martiri Cosma e Damiano, i protomartiri russi Boris e Gleb, Sant’Annibale Maria ed il Servo di Dio Francesco Maria Di Francia, San Paolo della Croce ed il Venerabile Giovanni Battista Danei, i Beati Giovanni Maria e Luigi Boccardo, i Venerabili Antonio e Marco Cavanis, i Servi di Dio Flavio e Gedeone Corrà. Papa Giovanni Paolo II, il 31 dicembre 1980 con la lettera apostolica "Egregiae virtutis" volle porre due fratelli, Cirillo e Metodio, quali patroni d’Europa insieme con San Benedetto, in quanto evangelizzatori dei popoli slavi e dunque della parte orientale del vecchio continente. Trattasi di due santi mai canonizzati dai papi, dei quali soltanto nel 1880 il pontefice Leone XIII aveva esteso il culto alla Chiesa universale.

Originari di Tessalonica, città greca a quel tempo facente parte dell'Impero Bizantino, Cirillo e Metodio evangelizzarono in particolar modo la Pannonia e la Moravia nel IX secolo. Poco notizie ci sono state però tramandate circa Cirillo e suo fratello Metodio. Sappiamo che Cirillo in realtà si chiamava Costantino ed adottò in seguito il nome Cirillo come monaco, verso il termine della sua vita. Ulteriori informazioni circa le loro attività sono pervenute sino a noi grazie a due “Vitæ”, redatte in paleoslavo, nota anche come “Leggende Pannoniche”. Si conservano inoltre le lettere che l’allora pontefice indirizzò a Metodio e la “Leggenda italica”, scritta in latino. Quest’ultima narra che a Velletri il vescovo Gauderico, devoto del papa San Clemente, le cui reliquie furono traslate in Italia proprio da Cirillo, volle redarre un resoconto sulla vita di quest'ultimo. A causa della innegabile scarsità di fonti storicamente attendibili, sono fiorite numerose leggende attorno alle figure di Cirillo e Metodio.

Nativi di Salonicco (in slavo Solun), rampolli di una nobile famiglia greca, loro padre Leone era drungario della città, posizione che gli conseguiva un elevato status sociale. Secondo la “Vita Cyrilli”, quest’ultimo era il più giovane di sette fratelli e già in tenera età pare avesse espresso il desiderio di dedicarsi interamente al perseguimento della sapienza. In giovane età si trasferì a Costantinopoli, ove intraprese gli studi teologici e filosofici. La tradizione vuole che tra i suoi precettori vi fu il celebre patriarca Fozio ed Anastasio Bibliotecario riferisce dell'amicizia che intercorreva fra i due, così come di una disputa dottrinaria verificatasi tra loro. La curiosità tipica di Cirillo dimostrava il suo eclettismo: egli coltivò infatti nozioni di astronomia, geometria, retorica e musica, ma fu nel campo della linguistica che poté dar prova del suo genio. Oltre al greco, Cirillo parlava infatti correntemente anche il latino, l'arabo e l'ebraico. Da Costantinopoli, l'imperatore inviò i due fratelli in varie missioni, anche presso gli Arabi: fu durante la missione presso i Càsari che Cirillo rinvenne le reliquie del papa San Clemente, un Vangelo ed un salterio scritti in lettere russe, come narra la “Vita Methodii”. La missione più importante che venne affidata a Cirillo e Metodio fu quella presso le popolazioni slave della Pannonia e della Moravia.

Il sovrano di Moravia, Rostislav, poi morto martire e venerato come santo, chiese all'imperatore bizantino di inviare missionari nelle sue terre, celando dietro motivazioni religiose anche il fattore politico della preoccupante presenza tedesca nel suo regno. Cirillo accettò volentieri l’invito e, giunto nella sua nuova terra di missione, incominciò a tradurre brani del Vangelo di Giovanni inventando un nuovo alfabeto, detto glagolitico (da “глаголь” che significa “parola”), oggi meglio noto come alfabeto cirillico. Probabilmente già da tempo si era cimentato nell’elaborazione di un alfabeto per la lingua slava. Non tardarono però a manifestarsi contrasti con il clero tedesco, primo evangelizzatore di quelle terre. Nel 867 Cirillo e Metodio si recarono a Roma per far ordinare sacerdoti i loro discepoli, ma forse la loro visita fu dettata da un’esplicita convocazione da parte del papa Adriano II insospettito dall’amicizia tra Cirillo e l’eretico Fozio. Ad ogni modo il pontefice riservò loro un'accoglienza positiva, ordinò prete Metodio ed approvò le loro traduzioni della Bibbia e dei testi liturgici in lingua slava. Inoltre Cirillo gli fece dono delle reliquie di San Clemente, da lui ritrovate in Crimea. Durante la permanenza nella Città Eterna, Cirillo si ammalò e morì: era il 14 febbraio 869. Venne sepolto proprio presso la basilica di San Clemente.

Metodio ritornò poi in Moravia, ma durante un successivo viaggio a Roma venne consacrato vescovo ed assegnato alla sede di Sirmiun (odierna Sremska Mitroviča). Quando in Moravia a Rostislav successe il nipote Sventopelk, favorevole alla presenza tedesca nel regno, iniziò così la persecuzione dei discepoli di Cirillo e Metodio, visti come portatori di un'eresia. Lo stesso Metodio fu detenuto per due anni in Baviera ed infine morì presso Velehrad, nel sud della Moravia, il 6 aprile 885. I suoi discepoli vennero incarcerati o venduti come schiavi a Venezia. Una parte di essi riuscì a fuggire nei Balcani e non a caso in Bulgaria si venerano come Sette Apostoli della nazione proprio Cirillo, Metodio ed i loro discepoli Clemente, Nahum, Saba, Gorazd ed Angelario, comunemente festeggiati al 27 luglio. Il Martyrologium Romanum ed il calendario liturgico dedicano invece ai fratelli Cirillo e Metodio la festa del 14 febbraio, nell’anniversario della morte del primo.

Se l’immane opera dei due fratelli di Tessalonica fu cancellata in Moravia, come detto trovò fortuna e proseguimento in terra bulgara, anche grazie al favore del sovrano San Boris Michele I, considerato “isapostolo”, che abbracciò il cristianesimo e ne fece la religione nazionale. La vastissima attività dei discepoli di Cirillo e Metodio in questo paese diede origine alla letteratura bulgara, ponendo così le basi della cultura scritta dei nuovi grandi stati russi. Il cirillico avvicinò moltissimo i bulgari e tutti i popoli slavi al mondo greco-bizantino: questo alfabeto si componeva di trentotto lettere, delle quali ben ventiquattro prese dall’alfabeto greco, mentre le altre appositamente ideate per la fonetica slava. Ciò comportò una grande facilità nel trapiantare in slavo l’enorme tradizione letteraria greca. La nuova lingua soppiantò ovunque il glagolitico e rese celebre sino ai giorni nostri il nome del suo ideatore.


DALLA “VITA” IN LINGUA SLAVA DI COSTANTINO

Costantino Cirillo, stanco dalle molte fatiche, cadde malato e sopportò il proprio male per molti giorni. Fu allora ricreato da una visione di Dio, e cominciò a cantare così: Quando mi dissero: «andremo alla casa del Signore», il mio spirito si è rallegrato e il mio cuore ha esultato (cfr. Sal 121, 1).

Dopo aver indossato le sacre vesti, rimase per tutto il giorno ricolmo di gioia e diceva: «Da questo momento non sono più servo né dell'imperatore né di alcun uomo sulla terra, ma solo di Dio onnipotente. Non esistevo, ma ora esisto ed esisterò in eterno. Amen».

Il giorno dopo vestì il santo abito monastico e aggiungendo luce a luce si impose il nome di Cirillo. Così vestito rimase cinquanta giorni.

Giunta l'ora della fine e di passare al riposo eterno, levate le mani a Dio, pregava tra le lacrime, dicendo: «Signore, Dio mio, che hai creato tutti gli ordini angelici e gli spiriti incorporei, che hai steso i cieli e resa ferma la terra e hai formato dal nulla tutte le cose che esistono, tu che ascolti sempre coloro che fanno la tua volontà e ti temono e osservano i tuoi precetti; ascolta la mia preghiera e conserva nella fede il tuo gregge, a capo del quale mettesti me, tuo servo indegno ed inetto.

Liberali dalla malizia empia e pagana di quelli che ti bestemmiano; fa' crescere di numero la tua Chiesa e raccogli tutti nell'unità.

Rendi santo, concorde nella vera fede e nella retta confessione il tuo popolo, e ispira nei cuori la parola della tua dottrina. E' tuo dono infatti l'averci scelti a predicare il Vangelo del tuo Cristo, a incitare i fratelli alle buone opere e a compiere quanto ti è gradito.

Quelli che mi hai dato, te li restituisco come tuoi; guidali ora con la tua forte destra, proteggili all'ombra delle tue ali, perché tutti lodino e glorifichino il tuo nome di Padre e Figlio e Spirito Santo. Amen».

Avendo poi baciato tutti col bacio santo, disse: «Benedetto Dio, che non ci ha dato in pasto ai denti dei nostri invisibili avversari, ma spezzò la loro rete e ci ha salvati dalla loro voglia di mandarci in rovina».

E così, all'età di quarantadue anni, si addormentò nel Signore.

Il papa comandò che tutti i Greci che erano a Roma e i Romani si riunissero portando ceri e cantando e che gli dedicassero onori funebri non diversi da quelli che avrebbero tributato al papa stesso; e così fu fatto.


INNO (dalla Liturgia delle Ore)

Risuoni nella Chiesa
da oriente ad occidente
l'ecumenica lode
di Cirillo e Metodio.

Maestri di Sapienza
e padri nella fede
splendono come fiaccole
sul cammino dei popoli.

Con la potenza inerme
della croce di Cristo
raccolsero le genti
nella luce del Regno.

Nella preghiera unanime
delle lingue diverse
si rinnovò il prodigio
della Chiesa nascente.

O Dio trino e unico,
a te l'incenso e il canto,
l'onore e la vittoria,
a te l'eterna gloria. Amen.


ORAZIONE

O Dio, ricco di misericordia,
che nella missione apostolica dei santi fratelli Cirillo e Metodio
hai donato ai popoli slavi la luce del Vangelo,
per la loro comune intercessione fa' che tutti gli uomini accolgano la tua parola
e formino il tuo popolo santo concorde nel testimoniare la vera fede.
Per il nostro Signore Gesù Cristo, tuo Figlio, che è Dio,
e vive e regna con te, nell’unità dello Spirito Santo,
per tutti i secoli dei secoli. Amen.

Autore:
Fabio Arduino


SOURCE : http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/22850

ANONYME. VIES DE CONTANTIN (Cyrille) ET DE METHODE. Oeuvres numérisées par Marc Szwajcer : http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/eglise/anonyme/methode.htm