05/25/2021, 10.36
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Moscow, Orthodox feast of Cyril and Methodius: the Cyrillic alphabet and the cultural mission

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The two evangelizers, celebrated yesterday, used a "Christian alphabet" to unite different peoples, overcoming the prejudice between "Greeks" and "barbarians". President Vladimir Putin Best sends best wishes to Patriarch Kirill.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Yesterday May 24, the Russian Church celebrated the memory of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the "Teachers of the Slavs". The feast is also recognized in Russia as a civil holiday, "Day of Slavic writing and culture", at the origin of the literary tradition of all peoples who, like the Russians, use the "Cyrillic" alphabet.

The Macedonian apostles were sent from Constantinople 1158 years ago. In 863, they composed the first holy books (Bible and Missal) in the new language, known to them in their native Thessaloniki, and also obtained the blessing of Pope Adrian II in Rome, to whom they had brought the relics of Pope Clement I as a gift in 869, which they miraculously found in Crimea.

In 1980, Pope John Paul II proclaimed them co-patrons of Europe, together with Saint Benedict; the remains of Cyril rest in the basilica of San Clemente in Rome, where he died, while Methodius is buried in Velehrad in Moravia, the place of origin of the Slavic mission.

On the occasion of the feast, the Russian Orthodox Church confers a prestigious award dedicated to the two holy brothers, and it is also an opportunity to congratulate the patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev), who assumed this name at the age of 22, entering the monastery in 1969.

President Putin, who shares with the patriarch the age-old name of Vladimir, the baptizer of the Russians sent greetings to the Patriarch on his name day. The first to receive the award was the poet and translator Mušin Lazurja, a native of Abkhazia, the Caucasian region that the Russians contend with Georgia.

Lazurja himself explained that "the meaning of this holiday is the perception of the word and thought of different peoples in accordance with the Russian language, as the famous Russian critic and philosopher Vissarion Belinsky said:"the translations into the Russian language are themselves expressions of Russian literature”, and so the Cyrillic translations into Paleo-Slavic from Greek and Latin founded the common Slavic culture”. The poet thus affirms the "cultural mission" of the Slavs and of the Russians in particular: "how many peoples, including those of the Caucasus, have been able to understand the laws of the creation of the world thanks to the Christian alphabet, and to the mentality handed down in it! ".

Andrej Ubogij, a surgeon in the emergency room of Kaluga, was a second recipient of the award and in turn recalled that "the ancient Greeks and Romans considered their language an expression of perfection, and all other peoples were barbarians , that is, unable to express themselves… only Cyril and Methodius, knowing so many languages, were able to overcome this prejudice, so today we celebrate the friendship between peoples.”

Another illustrious winner was Vladislav Bakhrevskij, author of historical novels on the most important figures in Russian history. For Bakhrevsky, "Cyril and Methodius marked the beginning of the autonomy of the Slavs among other peoples, and no one can give more to their descendants".

This year, Patriarch Kirill did not celebrate the solemnity of the two saints in the cathedral of Christ the Saviour, still remaining confined to the residence of Peredelkino due to the resurgence of the pandemic, and to avoid exposing the faithful to further risks.

The liturgy was held in his private chapel dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky, another historical figure in the Russian tradition of unification of peoples. Kirill nevertheless received a visit from the president of the National Assembly of South Korea, Park Byeong-seug, who officially invited him to visit his country, where the Russian Church carries out an intense missionary activity.

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