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Saints Cyril and Methodius (Св. Кирил и Методиј) – creators of the Slavic literacy and literature

The roots of the Macedonian cultural history are set into the work of the Thessaloniki brothers Cyril and Methodius (Кирил и Методиј). They gave the first literacy and the first books to the Slavs and by that, they put the first foundations of the librarian works in all Slavic countries.

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The Ohrid literary center represented the first Slavic literary center, where the students of Cyril and Methodius, Clement (Климент) and Naum (Наум) started their educational and literary activity. They set the foundations of so-called Ohrid literary school. As well as the other schools the Ohrid literary school had its own representatives, leaders. Those were Clement and Naum Ohridski.

In Ohrid literary center that is in the work of Clement and Naum laid the foundations not only of the Macedonian literature but also of the Macedonian librarian work. Their literary work actually created the first original Slavic literary fund in the middle age monastery and church libraries.


At the beginning of the IX century, there had been created a solid base for wider and more organized missionary activity among the Macedonian Slavs. At that period, the Byzantium Empire lived its new blossom on cultural and education plans, so that wave splashed also the cities that were further that Czar grad especially, Thessaloniki. In the first decades of the IX century in Thessaloniki, the family of the high clerk of the czar authority assistant of the Byzantium strategist of Thessaloniki and the area of Thessaloniki lived.

The name of this clerk was Lav by nationally Greek, whose wife was a Slav, Maria. The family had many children, but only the name of the oldest Methodius and the youngest Konstantin are mentioned. It was not even mentioned the secular name of Methodius who got this name after his admittance in the monk order.

Lav and Maria sent their children since their earliest childhood to the Christian study, trying to help them use the holy Christian truths in their lives. Constantine since his early youth was involved in the lists of Saint Gregory Nazijanzin and Dionysus Areopagistski. His father sent him to Czar grad to continue his education in the Emporia Magnaure school, where besides the religious sciences, they studied grammar, arithmetic, geography, astronomy, music, poetry, rhetoric. Beside these sciences, Constantine studied languages, Latin, Jewish, and Syrian. Among, his great and glorious teachers was Fotij the largest polemic and diplomat, who later was elected for a patriarch. After he had finished his higher education, Constantine was appointed for a librarian at the church “Saint Sophia” and later he was appointed for a teacher of philosophy at the school that he had finished. Then, he received the name Constantine philosopher.

About Methodius there are some sources according to which he got an education and he dedicated himself to the state and military service. He was gifted with Christian benevolent life, state, and military capabilities. Later, he managed the area of Bregalnica and contributed to the baptizing of the Slavs in that part of Macedonia. For this success, his brother Konstantin had a special contribution.

The missionary activity of the holy brothers among the Macedonian Slavs especially for the creation of the Slavic alphabet was noted in the hagiography of Saint Naum. This preceded the translation of the holy books into the language of the Macedonian Slavs from the region of Thessaloniki and the missionary work among the western Slavs in Moravia.

A certain time before their missionary activity, the holy brothers were withdrawn in the monastery Polihron on the small Asian mountain Olympus, where actually they were prepared for their epochal missionary work. The monastery loneliness they stopped twice when they were sent by the Byzantium authority and by the Czar grad patriarch to the missions among the Saracens and Hazards. They finished these missions with great success.

Rostislav the prince of Great Moravia sent an appeal to the Byzantium emperor Michel III to sent an episcope and a teacher who would explain in their language, the true Christian religion. The choice fell on the holy brothers. They were almost prepared for this mission as well because of the largest number of the holy books they had already translated into Slavic language. They elected decent students and assistants and went to Moravia. They were greeted with huge joy and great honors. Soon after they opened a school, where they prepared the future priests and teachers for the Western Slavic people. There they found a great resistance by the German priests who blamed them for heresy.  They were forced to go to Rome to prove their true religion. In Rome, they were accepted with great honors by the pope Adrian II. He approved the Slavic holy books and ordered to be put them in the altar of the church “Santa Maria Majore” and to be performed services in Slavic language in three Roman states.

Cyril in Rome got seriously ill and died on 14th February 869. Methodius continued with the help of his students the epochal missionary work among the Western Slavs. In Rome he received the priest rank. The hostility of the German priests did not stop. Tired from his efforts and tortures, St. Methodius died in Nitra in 885. His students suffered severe tortures and persecution.

Some of them were sold as slaves.

The work of the holy brothers after the death of St. Methodius was in a huge crisis, but continued thanks to their most gifted students – St. Clement and St. Naum, the Ohrid saints and miracle workers, teachers and educators, following their missionary method, which wanted to announce the God’s truth for the new people, respecting their cultural identity, remained life pattern for the Holy church and for the missioners of all time.
Although, they were Byzantium by their culture, the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius managed to become Slavic apostles. They wanted to serve for the good of the Slavic people and the unity of the universal church. For these and such benefits in their apostle epistle Egregiae Virtutis, the pope John Paul II on 31st December 1980 announced them for patrons of Europe, whose patron is St. Benedict proclaimed by Pope Paul VI on 26th October 1964.