Catholic prayers listing saints often mention Cyril and Methodius. I paid no attention to this until I visited the Balkans. There are statues honoring these 2 early saints in many public places and there are images of them everywhere, especially in Bulgaria. I began to pay attention to this phenomenon and ultimately realized that they are iconic in every possible way in this part of the world.
Cyril and Methodius were brothers. Their mother was Bulgarian and their father was Greek. They were born in Thessaloniki and, as adults, they are usually shown together. In the year 867, they were invited to Rome by Pope Nicholas because they were successful missionaries good at spreading Christianity. Cyril is often shown as a monk and Methodius as a bishop. This is because Cyril entered a monastery while in Rome and died there 50 days later. The pope made Methodius, who continued their work, a bishop. They are honored today like media stars because they created the Galolitic alphabet and began translating Greek books into Old Bulgarian. Their alphabet evolved into the Cyrillic one that is used by more than 250,000,000 people in Europe and Asia today, including Russia.
Ruth and I saw a depiction of their alphabet in the Bulgarian National History Museum in Sofia. Teacher Ruth grabbed my notebook and wrote, “St Cyril & Methodius mural from the Church of the Virgin Mary Kamenski in Ohrid 1863 with inscription, ‘Bulgarian educators, they wrote the characters of the Bulgarians.’ They are Cyril and his brother.
Cyril and Methodius are a big deal in Bulgaria. May 24 is a national holiday there. It’s actually Saints Cyril and Methodius Day but it’s called Bulgarian Eduction Day and Culture Day or Slavonic Literature Day or Culture and Literacy Day or Alphabet Day. It’s also high school graduation day and kids dress in their best and party. Ruth & I were in Sofia at Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in May 2015 and saw honking cars full of them outside this massive church that had depictions of Cyril and Methodius inside.
Skopje is the capital of Macedonia. the largest university in this republic is Skopje’s Saints Cyril and Methodius University. May 24 is also a public holiday in Macedonia.