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Saints Cyril and Methodius

Greek: Κυριλλος και Μεθοδιος
Who: Byzantine Greek brothers from the 9th century.
Born: Cyril in 827-828 and Methodius in 815-820
Died: 14 February 869 and 6 April 885
From: Thessaloniki, Byzantine Empire (modern day Greece)
Known as: The Apostles to the Slavs

Saints Cyril and Methodius by Jan Matejko (1885).

Saints Cyril and Methodius by Jan Matejko (1885).

Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century. They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia and through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs. They invented the Glagolitic alphabet and the Cyrillic alphabet which formed the basis for the slavic alphabet used in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, FYROM, Montenegro and Serbia. This is why many Greek letters can be found in their modern day alphabets. After the brothers death their pupils confined their missionary work among the slavs and are now celebrated in the Orthodox church as Cyril officially became a saint.

Cyril was a very smart person and his mastery of theology and command of both Arabic and Hebrew made him eligible for his first state mission where he was sent to the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawakkil to discuss the principle of the Holy Trinity with the Arab theologians, and to improve relations between the Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire. In 862 the Prince of Great Moravia, Prince Rastislav, requested that the Emperor Michael III and the Patriarch Photius of Constantinople to send missionaries to evangelize his slavic people. Rastislav had originally expelled missionaries of the Roman Church and turned to Constantinople for ecclesiastical assistance and for political support. The emperor sent Cyril and Methodius.

As part of their mission the brothers devised the Glagolitic alphabet, which was the first alphabet to be used for Slavonic manuscripts, which was suited to match the specific features of the Slavic language. That eventually turned into the Cyrillic alphabet, which is used by many countries today. This alphabet was primarily based on the Greek uncial writing of the 9th century. The brothers also translated the bible into what is now known as Old Church Slavonic. To this day the brothers are celebrated in Bulgaria and FYROM on May 24, which is a national holiday, in the Czech lands and Slovakia on July 5 and by the Eastern Orthodox Church on May 11 and by the Roman Catholic Church on February 14.

Cyrillic Alphabet video:

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