(Vatican News) During his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis continues his catechesis series on people who have embodied apostolic zeal, reflecting on the Co-Patrons of Europe, Byzantine missionaries and brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, remembered as the 'Apostles of the Slavs.'
Saints Cyril and Methodius' legacy can inspire a renewed commitment to peace, converting hearts, and fraternity.
Pope Francis made this observation during his Wednesday General Audience as he praised the two brothers, and Co-Patrons of Europe, who are venerated as “the Apostles of the Slavs” due to their outstanding missionary work among the peoples of Moravia.
The Holy Father was continuing his series of catecheses on figures who embody apostolic zeal.
He pointed out how the two brothers renounced their aristocratic lives to embrace the monastic life.
Proclaiming the Word of God
Pope Francis recalled their great work, after studying the local people's culture, to proclaim and inculturate the Word of God among the Slavic peoples, citing Cyril's work to develop the Cyrillic alphabet, as they did not have one, which made it possible to preach God’s Word and to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the language of the people.
People therefore no longer felt that the Christian faith was foreign to them, the Pope said, "but was now spoken in their native tongue."
Cyril worked hard so that people could understand the faith in their native language, the Pope underscored.
Encountering opposition, the Holy Father recalled, the Byzantine Christian theologians and missionaries traveled to Rome, where they received support from the Pope.
"They did not have fear these two. They were courageous!" the Pope said.
Cyril died in Rome, while Methodius, who was ordained a Bishop, returned to continue the work of evangelization in the Slavic lands, where he died a martyr’s death. "He had to suffer much," the Pope said.
Co-Patrons of Europe, whose prayers are needed today
In 1980, Saint Pope John Paul II proclaimed Saints Cyril and Methodius the Co-Patrons of Europe, along with St. Benedict of Nursia, the Pope recalled, to recognize the abundant harvest of Christian faith and culture, whose seeds they sowed.
Pope Francis concluded by praying that "the prayers of these two great Saints inspire among the peoples of Europe today a renewed commitment to the reconciliation, unity and peace," which are "the Holy Spirit’s gifts for the conversion of hearts and the building of a culture of authentic justice and fraternity."