Monday, June 22, 2009

Saints Cyril and Methodius

Mikhail Vrubel. March 17, 1856 - April 14, 1910,
St. Cyril. 1885.
Zinc panel.
Church of St. Cyril, Kiev, Ukraine

On Wednesday, 17 June 2009 Pope Benedict XVI gave a talk in General Audience on the theme of Saints Cyril and Methodius

Not a very long speech but just enough to cover the salient points:

“As we continue our catechesis on the early Christian writers of the East and the West, we now turn to the brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius. They were born in Thessalonica in the early ninth century.

Cyril, whose baptismal name was Constantine, was educated at the Byzantine Court, ordained a priest, and became an acclaimed teacher of sacred and profane sciences.

When his brother Michael became a monk, taking the name of Methodius, Cyril also decided to embrace the monastic life.

Having retrieved the relics of Pope Clement I during a mission in Crimea, the brothers successfully preached Christianity to the people of Moravia. Inventing an alphabet for the Slavonic language, they together with their disciples translated the Liturgy, the Bible and texts of the Fathers, shaping the culture of the Slav peoples and leaving an outstanding example of inculturation.

Pope Adrian II received them in Rome and encouraged their missionary work.

When Cyril died in Rome in 869, Methodius continued the mission in spite of persecution.

After his death in 885, some of his disciples, providentially released from slavery, spread the Gospel in Bulgaria and in “the Land of the Rus”.

In recognition of the brothers’ vast influence, they were named Co-Patrons of Europe by Pope John Paul II.

May we imitate their strong faith and their Christian wisdom as we bear witness to the Gospel in our daily lives!”

More about Saints Cyril and Methodius can be found in
(1)The Encyclical of Pope John Paul II on the Eleventh Centenary of the two saints entitled Slavorum Apostoli (2nd June 1985) and

(2) the Encyclical of Pope Leo XII on the two saints entitled Grande Munus (September 30, 1880)

Saint Cyril’s Church was built ca 1146.

In 1881–4 marble choir parapets and a new marble iconostasis (designed by Adrian Prakhov) were installed in the church.

Its medieval frescoes were restored, Mikhail Vrubel, painted new murals in the vaults and narthex and the four icons of the iconostasis.

In 1929 it was turned into a State Museum.

Vrubel visited Venice to study early church art as part of the project. His paintings sometimes had a mosaic-like quality where paint was applied in different-shaped blocks varying in size by a factor of about two. Vrobel was the leading Russian Symbolist painter