Thousands commemorate arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Czech lands

About 15,000 people took part in the annual pilgrimage mass at Velehrad today, marking the arrival of Cyril and Methodius to Moravia in 863.


Written by ČTK Published on 05.07.2021 17:23:00 (updated on 05.07.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

About 15,000 people took part in the annual pilgrimage mass in Velehrad today as part of the Days of People of Good Will festival, which marks the anniversary of the arrival of missionaries and later Saints Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia in 863 AD, festival secretary Josef Kořenek has told journalists.

The Sunday half of the two-day-festival, one of the largest religious events in the Czech Republic, was attended by about 5,000 people.

Last year, the celebration was greatly reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic. During both days, only one thousand people could enter the pilgrimage complex at a time.

In previous years, the attendance was around 20,000-30,000 people.

A fund-raising event called the Evening of People of Good Will was attended by about 5,000 people. During the evening, visitors donated almost 800,000 crowns through SMS messages. Along with financial gifts, a total of 1.8 million crowns were collected via donations.

Brno Bishop Vojtěch Cikrle stressed the importance of Saints Cyril and Methodius and the need to help people in southern Moravia, hit by a devastating tornado a week ago.

Cikrle delivered the main sermon at the pilgrimage mass, with which the Cyril and Methodius festival culminated.

Saint Cyril (827-869) and Saint Methodius (825-885), known as "the Apostles to the Slavs," were two Greek brothers from Thessalonica. They translated the Holy Scriptures into Old Church Slavonic, and designed a Slavic alphabet called Glagolithic. Its descendant, called Cyrillic, is still used by Slavs in the Orthodox Church.

They came to the Great Moravian empire in 863 AD.

July 5th is the Day of Saints Cyril and Methodius and a national holiday in the Czech Republic.

Cirkle said Cyril and Methodius had accepted their mission to a country that was remote from them in geographic, cultural, and climatic terms.

"Obviously, they could not have had a different reason than that which arose from their belief and obedience. What followed?" Cikrle said.

"One of them created an original scripture into which they translated parts of the Bible, setting out on their way. This was just the beginning," he added.

"Whenever coming to Velehrad, I remember the life story and testimony about the accepted mission. Later on, everything was certainly different in the lives of Cyril and his brother Methodius. Except for the most important thing: that God was with them and they were with him," Cikrle said.

This year's Days of People of Good Will also served as a tribute to people who have been fighting the coronavirus pandemic, and those who have been helping people who have lost their homes, Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka said.

"We also thank those who have addressed the illness and disasters with the internal decision not to resign, but to believe and hope," Duka said.

He gave the golden Saint Adalbert Medal to Olomouc Archbishop Jan Graubner for his renewal of the Velehrad complex, and great effort to preserve the Cyril and Methodius tradition.

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