Bulgarian Orthodox Church honours Saints Cyril and Methodius

Today the Bulgarian Orthodox Church honours the memory of Saints Cyril and Methodius – the people who created the Slavic alphabet. By the end of the 9th century the two brothers were venerated as saints, and the first signs that 11 May was celebrated as Cyril and Methodius day go back to the 12th century.

In the years of Bulgaria’s National Revival this date came to be asserted as the church holiday of the two saints, equal-to-apostles. The Glagolitic alphabet which they wrote combines the three most important signs of Christianity – the triangle, the cross and the circle. They are thought to have devised the Glagolitic alphabet in Polychron monastery in Asia Minor where the most important liturgical books were translated into Slavonic.

In the mid-9th century in Great Moravia the two brothers and their pupils laid the foundations of the Great Moravia literary school. Then they left for Venice, where Cyril conducted the famed dispute on the trilingual dogma with the Latin clergy. According to this dogma Christianity can only be preached in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Cyril’s sound logic and powerful arguments helped him win the dispute. After Venice the two brothers went to Rome where Cyril died and was given a ceremonial burial at the San Clemente basilica.

A thousand years later, in 1881, the memory of the two brothers was honoured in Rome for the first time. A chapel was built at San Clemente, with the help of several other countries, where his remains were laid to rest.

Cyril and Methodius, and their apostolic and cultural efforts were accorded the greatest recognition when, on 31 December, 1980, Pope John Paul II declared them co-patrons of Europe. Nowadays their name is a symbol of a bridge thrown between the Eastern and the Western Christian traditions, of the cultural unity of Europe.

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