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Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

11 May 2012
  + Saints Cyril and Methodius +
Cyril: AD 826-869 — Methodius: c. AD 815-885

Methodius and CyrilSaint Cyril and Saint Methodius were missionaries to the Slavs. The brothers Constantine and Methodius came from a Greek family in Thessalonica. Younger brother Constantine took the name Cyril when he became a monk in 868. After ordination, Cyril became librarian at the Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople.

In 862, Emperor Michael III and the Patriarch Photios sent the brothers as to what is now the Czech republic, where they taught in the native Slavic tongue. While the fact of their sending may have included the emperor's political designs, the brothers seem to have focused only upon the spiritual aspect of their task.

Cyril is said to have invented the alphabet known today as Cyrillic, which provided a written language for the liturgy and Scriptures for the Slavic peoples. Slavic alphabets include characters from Greek with extra symbols devised for sounds not expressed in Greek.

Their use of the vernacular established an important principle for evangelical missions. People could be taught directly without needing to first instruct them in the language of the Bible before teaching them what it said about their salvation.

Note: Cyril is traditionally celebrated in many places on 14 February, his date of death, and Methodius is often combined with him. I'm following the lectionary from the new Lutheran Service Book, which moved the brothers' commemoration to 11 May, evidently because so much of the Western Church associates 14 February with Saint Valentine.

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, who by the power of the Holy Spirit moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people, overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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