Repose of St Cyril, Equal of the Apostles and Teacher of the Slavs

Saint Cyril Equal of the Apostles, Teacher of the Slavs (Constantine in the schema), and his older brother Methodius (April 6), were Slavs, born in Macedonia in the city of Thessalonica.

St Cyril received the finest of educations, and from the age of fourteen he was raised with the son of the emperor. Later, he was ordained as a priest. Upon his return to Constantinople, he worked as a librarian of the cathedral church, and as a professor of philosophy. St Cyril successfully held debates with iconoclast heretics and with Moslems.

Yearning for solitude, he went to Mount Olympos to his older brother Methodius, but his solitude lasted only a short while. Both brothers were sent by the emperor Michael on a missionary journey to preach Christianity to the Khazars in the year 857. Along the way they stopped at Cherson and discovered the relics of the Hieromartyr Clement of Rome (November 25).

Arriving at the territory of the Khazars, the holy brothers spoke with them about the Christian Faith. Persuaded by the preaching of St Cyril, the Khazar prince together with all his people accepted Christianity. The grateful prince wanted to reward the preachers with rich presents, but they refused this and instead asked the prince to free and send home with them all the Greek captives. St Cyril returned to Constantinople together with 200 such captives set free.

In the year 862 began the chief exploit of the holy brothers. At the request of Prince Rostislav, the emperor sent them to Moravia to preach Christianity in the Slavic language. Sts Cyril and Methodius by a revelation from God compiled a Slavonic alphabet and translated the Gospel, Epistles, the Psalter and many Service books into the Slavonic language. They introduced divine services in Slavonic.

The holy brothers were then summoned to Rome at the invitation of the Roman Pope. Pope Adrian received them with great honor, since they brought with them the relics of the Hieromartyr Clement. Sickly by nature and in poor health, St Cyril soon fell ill from his many labors, and after taking the schema, he died in the year 869 at the age of forty-two. Before his death, he expressed his wish for his brother to continue the Christian enlightenment of the Slavs. St Cyril was buried in the Roman church of St Clement, whose own relics also rest there, brought to Italy from Cherson by the Enlighteners of the Slavs.