Celebration of the Anniversary of the Moravian Mission of Sts. Cyril and Methodius
In 2013 we commemorate the 1150th anniversary of the Moravian mission, declared by UNESCO as the year of the Saint Brothers Cyril and Methodius, enlighteners of the Slavs and patrons of Europe.
1150 years ago their great deed opened a new age in European culture and Christian spirituality. In 863 Sts. Cyril and Methodius began their Moravian mission and created:
- The first Slavic alphabet – Glagolitic alphabet
- The first arranged Slavic written language – the old-Bulgarian language
- The first systematic translations of Biblical and liturgical texts into a spoken Slavonic language – the old-Bulgarian language
The two highly educated brothers from Thessaloniki arrived in Great Moravian in 863 as Christian missionaries at the behest of Prince Rostislav. In order to make their mission to spread Christianity among the Slavs more successful, they conducted their services in Slavic language, for which they have created a new alphabet and have translated the major Christian books.
After the death of Methodius in 885 the process was stopped and their disciples, who continued the work of the brothers, were later expelled from Great Moravia. At that moment Bulgarian King Boris knowing that a state cannot be independent without developing its own culture, welcomed the disciples of Cyril and Methodius to Bulgaria and provided them with conditions to work. That is how the Slavonic alphabet survived.
Later, the Glagolitic alphabet was transformed in Bulgaria into the Cyrillic alphabet and from here it spread to the rest of the Slavic peoples. This way the role of the Byzantine Empire as a civilizer gradually shifted towards Bulgaria.
The preservation and continuation of the work of the Saints Cyril and Methodius is the biggest contribution of Bulgaria in the world culture.
The old-Bulgarian literature is the oldest on the continent followed centuries later by the French, English and Russian literatures as well as the German. The Russian literature adopts ready Bulgarian samples and the old-Bulgarian is introduced as literary language.
Prof. Heinz Miklas from the Slavic Studies Department of the Vienna University:
“First this is the creation of Slavonic literature and church. Second there is something scientists call today the Third Road. This is a way to maneuver between Constantinople and Rome. But let’s focus on the alphabet. At that time Europe had the Greek and Latin letters and Cyril and Methodius wanted to create something new, which is totally different from both alphabets and would provide Slavs with Christian identity. The symbols they created give the impression of sacred letters which is something unique and Rome and some Constantinople leaders did not approve of this and viewed it as heresy. Actually Cyril agreed to take part in the Great Moravia mission only if he was not to be accused of heresy after that. This man knew perfectly well what could happen if he created a new alphabet.”
Prof. Igor Kaliganov of the Slavonic Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences:
“The missionary role of the Byzantine Empire shifted towards Bulgaria which became the biggest missionary in the eastern Slavic world. In Bulgarian apocryphal texts from the time it can be read that Bulgarians were “God-chosen people,” and keeping in mind the historical role Bulgaria played I can agree with the author of the text.”
Some 300 million people across the globe use the Cyrillic alphabet today.