Early Life of Cyril (§ 1).
Mission to the Slavs (§ 2).
Appeal to Rome (§ 3).
Methodius as Bishop (§ 4).
Methodius and the Germans (§ 5).
Of the two "Apostles to the Slavs," Cyril
(originally named Constantine) died in 869; Methodius,
in 885. They were the sons of a subordinate
military officer named Drungarius, born at
Thessalonica, of Greek descent, but acquainted with
Slavonic. The Vita Cyrilli has a marked preference
for the number seven; according to it, Cyril or
Constantine was the youngest of seven brothers,
at seven years of age gave himself to
the pursuit of heavenly wisdom, at
fourteen was left an orphan. An
influential official, possibly the eunuch
Theoctistes, brought him to
Constantinople. Photius is said to have been among
his teachers; Anastasius mentions their later
friendship, as well as a conflict between them on a
point of doctrine. After the completion of his
education Cyril took orders, and seems to have
held the important position of chartophylax, or
secretary to the patriarch and keeper of the
archives, with some judicial functions also. After six
months' quiet retirement in a monastery he began
to teach philosophy and theology. In this period
may fall his controversy with the deposed
iconoclast patriarch John. The Vita also speaks of a
journey into Mohammedan territory, and
discussions with the inhabitants; and precisely at this
time the difference between Christianity and
Mohammedanism had become more sharply marked.
The Vita connects his anti-Jewish polemics with
his mission to the Chazars, a Finnish-Turkish tribe
on the Sea of Azof under a Jewish king who
allowed Jews, Mohammedans, and Christians to live
peaceably side by side. It is uncertain how far we
may trust the account of this journey, undertaken
at the emperor's bidding; but Dummler has pointed
out that the description of perils incurred from the
Hungarians corresponds closely to what is known
from other sources of their activity in those regions
at this exact time. According to the Vita, Cyril
found at Cherson an opportunity to learn the
Hebrew and Samaritan languages, and, according to
the Italian Legenda, also that of the Chazars.
Anastasius says that he described his discovery of the
bones of Saint Clement in a Storiola, a Sermo
declamatorius, and a Hymnus, the first two of which
Anastasius translated into Latin. Since Cyril, out of
modesty, omitted to mention his own name, it may
be inferred that the account extant in Slavonic, but
no doubt originally Greek, comes from one of these
works, probably from the Sermo declamatorius.
The statement that Methodius accompanied him
on the mission to the Chazars is probably a later
growth. Methodius, a man of great practical
energy, had already acquired a position of political
importance, presumably the governorship of the
But both brothers were now to enter upon the work which gives them their historical importance. An independent Slavonic principality had been established by Rostislav, duke of Moravia; and to maintain this independence it was necessary to assert also the ecclesiastical independence of his state, which had been, at least externally, Christianized from the German side. Hauck accepts the statement of Theotmar that Rostislav expelled the Teutonic clergy at the beginning of his contest with the Franks. He then turned to Constantinople to find teachers for his people. It is obvious that the opportunity to extend Byzantine influence among the Slavs would be there; and the task was entrusted to Cyril and Methodius. Their first work seems to have been the training of assistants. The assertion that Cyril now undertook his translation of part of the Bible contradicts the statement of the Legenda that it had already been made before his undertaking of the Moravian mission; and the oldest Slavonic documents have a southern character. Cyril is designated by both friends and opponents of contemporary date as the inventor of the Slavonic script. This would not exclude the possibility of his having made use of earlier letters, but implies only that before him the Slavs had no distinct script of their own for use in writing books. The so-called Glagolitic script can be traced back at least to the middle of the tenth century, possibly even into the ninth; it presupposes a man of some education as its originator, and is evidently derived principally from the Greek, but also partly from the Latin cursive. The Cyrillian script is undoubtedly later in origin, and apparently was first used in Bulgaria. It is impossible to determine with certainty what portions of the Bible the brothers translated. Apparently the New Testament and the Psalms were the first, followed by other lessons from the Old Testament. The Translatio speaks only of a version of the Gospels by Cyril, and the Vita Methodii only of the evangelium Slovenicum; but this does not prove that Cyril did not translate other liturgical selections (see BIBLE VERSIONS, B, XVI., § 1). The question has been much discussed which liturgy, that of Rome or that of Constantinople, they took as a source. Since, however, the opposition objected only to the liturgical use of the Slavonic language, not to any alleged departure from the Roman type of liturgy, it is probable that the Western source was used. This view is confirmed by the "Prague Fragments" and by certain Old Glagolitic liturgical fragments brought from Jerusalem to Kief and there discovered by Saresnewsky-- probably the oldest document for the Slavonic tongue; these adhere closely to the Latin type, as is shown by the words "mass," "preface," and the name of one Felicitas. In any case, the circumstances were such that the brothers could hope for no permanent success without obtaining the authorization of Rome.
Accordingly, they went to Rome after three and a half years of labor, passing through Pannonia, where they were well received by the chieftain Kozel. The account of a discussion in Venice on the use of Slavonic in the liturgy is doubtful. But there is no question of their welcome in Rome, due partly to their bringing with them the relics of Saint Clement; the rivalry with Constantinople, too, as to the jurisdiction over the territory of the Slavs would incline Rome to value the brothers and their influence. The learning of Cyril was also prized; Anastasius calls him not long after "the teacher of the Apostolic See." The ordination of the brothers' Slav disciples was performed by Formosus and Gauderic, two prominent bishops, and the newly made priests officiated in their own tongue at the altars of some of the principal churches. Feeling his end approaching, Cyril put on the monastic habit and died fifty days later (Feb. 14, 869). There is practically no basis for the assertion of the Translatio (ix.) that he was made a bishop; and the name of Cyril seems to have been given to him only after his death.
Methodius now continued the work among the Slavs alone; not at first in Moravia, but in Pannonia, owing to the political circumstances of the former country, where Rostislav had been taken captive by his nephew Svatopluk, then delivered over to Carloman, and condemned in a diet of the empire at the end of 870. Friendly relations, on the other hand, had been established with Kozel on the journey to Rome. This activity in Pannonia, however, made a conflict inevitable with the German episcopate, and especially with the bishop of Salzburg, to whose jurisdiction Pannonia had belonged for seventy-five years. In 865 Bishop Adalwin is found exercising all episcopal rights there, and the administration under him was in the hands of the archpriest Riehbald. The latter was obliged to retire to Salzburg, but his superior was naturally disinclined to abandon his claims. Methodius sought support from Rome; the Vita asserts that Kozel sent him thither with an honorable escort to receive episcopal consecration. The letter given as Adrian's in chap. viii., with its approval of the Slavonic mass, is a pure invention. It is noteworthy that the pope named Methodius not bishop of Pannonia, but archbishop of Sirmium, thus superseding the claims of Salzburg by an older title. The statement of the Vita that Methodius was made bishop in 870 and not raised to the dignity of an archbishop until 873 is contradicted by the brief of John VIII., written in June, 879, according to which Adrian consecrated him archbishop; John includes in his jurisdiction not only Moravia and Pannonia, but Servia as well.
The archiepiscopal claims of Methodius were
considered such an injury to the rights of Salzburg
that he was forced to answer for them
at a synod held at Regensburg in
the presence of King Louis. The
assembly, after a heated discussion, de
clared the deposition of the intruder,
and ordered him to be sent to Germany, where he
was kept a prisoner for two years and a half. In
Bibliography: Some first-hand sources are collected in ASS, Mar* ii. 12-26, and Oct., xi.168-171. For others consult: J. Friedrich, in Sitsunpsberidde der kaissrtidhbaAks. put°s°pusch-phil°logimh° and hietorisde Classe, part 3. pp. 393-"2. Munich, 1892; E. Dammler, in Ardaic ffir Kunde 6dsrr"isrhsr Gesckuktsqueuen, sill (1854), 145-199; idem and F. Miklasieok in Deaksckrsftm der k6niglid&4~idwn Akaderaie der Wisseasrjwften. Pkilwophisd,-kist°riod° Clam, Ax. 214248, Vienna, 1870; MGS. Script, xi (1854). 1-14. Consult: J. Dobrowsky, in Abhaudluapeu der bAssiscbsn GeseUschaft der Wisseasehaften, viii. 2, Prague. 1823; W. Wattenbech, BeW6ps sur GasChickts der ehridlHirche in Mdhnu and BdAmen, Vienna, 1849;. J. A. tin- sel, Gesrhirhte der Slatce»apo" Cflritt and Me", Leitmerits, 1857; A. Warfel, Das Lebes and Wirkes: der Wigen Apostd CyriU and Method. Prague. 1883; I.. L6gw, Cyrille et Ma%ode. Paris, 1888; J. Martin^ in Reous den lussis hietoriquee, xxvM (1880), 389-397 xxxol (1889), 110-188, xli (1887), 220-232; D. Rattinger, in Stimmm aus Maria-Leach. xxii. 38"52, 157-189, 400419, Freiburg, 1882; A. d'Avril, S. Cyrala et S. M&hode. Paris, 1885; N. Bonwetech, CyriB and Method, Erlangen. 1885; B. Brethols, Geschiehte M6hreas, I. i. 04 eqq.. Braun, 1893; L. K. Goetz, Geschidae der Slaroeaapoetd CWiU and Method, Goths, 1897; Paetrnek, Dbjini aloranak. apost. Cyr. a Meth.. Prag. 1902; J. Franks, in Archio far slaviscke Phitoloyie, xn'iii. 229 eqq.