When it’s not Ash Wednesday, February 14th is a day of romance and remembering the great Saint Valentine. But Valentine isn’t the only saint the Church celebrates today.
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two adventurous and well-educated brothers who brought the beauty of Catholicism to the Slavic people despite the intense political turmoil of the times.
Cyril, known as Constantine until shortly before his death, was a scholar and inspiration for the Cyrillic script used by Slavic speakers to this day. Methodius was a government official before he decided to leave politics for the monastic life.
In 860, they were sent together by the Byzantine emperor to fulfill the request of a Slav prince for missionaries in what is now the Czech Republic. They were chosen because of their previous success as missionaries and their understanding of the Slavic language.
The Slav prince used Cyril and Methodius’s arrival as a political tool to gain power over German influences, replacing German missionaries with the brothers. The two ignored the political landscape, however, and focused instead on following the mission God chose for them.
They began translating the Liturgy into Slavonic despite many people only valuing Greek and Latin. Throughout this process, they had to battle with those who were threatened by their work.
Despite the opposition, the brothers continued to work diligently to evangelize the Slavic people in their native language. They even went so far as to appeal to the pope for permission to practice the liturgy in Slavonic and ordain new Slavic priests.
After over eight years on mission, Cyril died shortly after becoming a monk in 869. Upset by the political turmoil and grieving his brother’s death, Methodius also wanted to leave missionary work and return to a monastic lifestyle.
But Cyril had other plans for his brother: His dying wish was that Methodius continue the missionary work they had started. To honor God and his brother, Methodius spent the rest of his life spreading Christianity in the region and translating important religious texts into Slavonic.
While they may not be “Saints of Love,” these brothers’ zeal for their faith and courage to fight against political overreach changed the course of Church history. Together, they brought thousands of people closer to the heart of Christ by helping them experience the faith in their native language. And that is true love.