Prague Celebrations of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Saint Vitus Cathedral

15. 2. 2013

By means of the celebration in the Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert, which will, in fact, launch the whole year of the Cyrillo-Methodian celebrations, the Prague Archbishopric will commemorate, at the same time, the 1040th anniversary of the foundation of the Bishopric in Prague, which emerged in 973. The third important anniversary event, which forms a connecting line between Prague and Great Moravia, is the one that happened 1130 years ago. It is the baptism of Prince Bořivoj and his wife Ludmila which, in accordance with Christian's Legend, was bestowed on them by Saint Methodius. It is problematic to date the baptism. However, the year 883 has been quoted most often. Even though before that, in 845, there were 14 Czech princes baptized at the assembly in the Bavarian Regensburg, Bořivoj's conversion seems to be the actual beginning of Christianization of our country.

During the mass, which will be broadcast by NOE TV, the Orthodox Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, His Beatitude Metropolitan Christopher, will donate an icon of the saint missionaries Cyril and Methodius to the Prague cathedral as his personal gift. At the same time, copies of the lead "Cyrillo-Methodian cross" with a Greek inscription and a picture of the crucified one from the 9th century will be blessed. The cross was found at Sady close to Uherské Hradiště. These copies will be distributed at the diocesan meeting of the youth on 23rd March.

Apart from representatives of the Orthodox Church, also representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Churches are invited to the celebrations, because the Cyrillo-Methodian legacy symbolizes the unity of the church for us. Also bishops of the nearby dioceses from abroad will be present as well as diplomatic representatives of nations connected with the Cyrillo-Methodian tradition. E.g. representatives of the diocese in Regensburg will be present, under which our lands came, in accordance with the law, before the establishment of the bishopric in Prague.

Ninth March is a reminder of the original feast, through which Archbishop Arnošt of Pardubice, along with emperor and king Charles IV, proclaimed the Solun brothers patrons of the lands of the Czech Crown. Charles IV picked up the threads of the work of both the brothers when he restored Slavonic liturgy in the monastery at Emauzy by means of his initiative to have the lives of both the saints written down anew and to create their altar in the cathedral of Saint Vitus, where the first depiction of Saints Cyril and Methodius emerged later on the outer triforium. Charles IV was led by his effort to connect all the territories of the former Great Moravia to the Roman Europe. He was convinced that his accommodating Slavic expansion to countries, in which Tatars were in power at that time, would be welcomed.

The contribution of Cyril and Methodius for the coutries of Central Europe cannot obviously be overestimated. For the first time, the whole Scripture was translated into a Slavic language. A missal was created, a psalter and lives of church fathers were translated. A preface to the Gospels – Proglas – was written down. While, according to historians, Cyril occupied himself rather with education of new priests and with translation of the Scriptures, Methodius occupied himself with legal texts. In accordance with the Greek, Roman and Slavic common law, he created the first civil code in the territory of Moravia. After Cyril's death in Rome, Methodius got a permission to celebrate Slavonic liturgy and he returned to Moravia as the Archbishop for Moravia and Pannonia.

The full meaning of the Cyrillo-Methodian mission, which turned our ancestors to the cross, was developed by Pope Pius IX who, based on a proposal by the Archbishop of Olomouc, Bedřich Fürstenberg, established 5th July as a feast day of Saints Cyril and Methodius in 1863. Leo XIII in his encyclical "Grande munus" from 1880 speaks about the merits of Cyril and Methodius and Pius XI commemorated the meaning of the Cyrillo-Methodian tradition by the fact that in 1928 he bestowed a title of "Minor Basilica" on the church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary at Velehrad and in 1932 he proclaimed, based on a request from the Archbishop of Olomouc, Leopold Prečan, brothers Cyril and Methodius copatrons of the basilica at Velehrad. All the steps done by his predecesors were utilized by Pope John Paul II who proclaimed Cyril and Methodius co-patrons of Europe. More about the Cyrillo-Methodian celebrations available at (Aleš Pištora)


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  • Here are our roots.

    (Blessed John Paul II, 22nd April 1990, Velehrad)

    They wanted to become part of those nations and to share their destiny in everything. Here, in this place, at Velehrad, in Moravia, we can feel the historical legacy of the kingdom in a peculiar way – we can feel even those who became its keepers and guardians.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • For us, people of the present age, their apostolate contains even the elocution of the ecumenical appeal, i.e. to build unity again, in a peaceful reconciliation, which later after their deaths was heavily damaged, and in the first place the unity between the East and the West.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • Their work is also a very important contribution to the growth of the common Christian roots of Europe, which by their firmness and viability create one of the main contact points, which must be respected by every serious attempt at reunification of our continent in a new and topical way.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • The story of both brothers, Cyril and Methodius, is a distinct example of unity.

    Saints Cyril and Methodius contributed, to a great extent, to the building of Europe, not only regarding its Christian religious community but also concerning its civil and cultural unity.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

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