24 May 2022 (MIA)
Macedonian Orthodox Church Calendar
Ss. Cyril and Methodius
They were brothers from Salonica, of eminent and wealthy parents, Leo and Maria. The elder brother, Methodius, spent ten years as an officer among the Slavs in Macedonia, and thus learned the Slavic language. After that, Methodius went off to Olympus and gave himself to monastic asceticism, and Cyril (Constantine) later joined him there.
When the Khazarite king, Kagan, sought preachers of the Christian faith from Emperor Michael, the Emperor commanded that these two brothers be found and sent to the Khazars. They converted Kagan to the Christian faith and baptized him, together with a great number of his nobles and an even greater number of the people.
After some time, they returned to Constantinople, where they compiled a Slavic alphabet of 38 letters and began to translate the service books from Greek into Slavonic.
At the invitation of Prince Rastislav, they went to Moravia, where, with great devotion, they spread and confirmed the Faith, made more copies of the books, brought them to priests and taught the young. They went to Rome at the invitation of the Pope, and Cyril fell ill and died there, on Feb. 14, 869.
Then Methodius returned to Moravia and labored at the confirming of the Faith among the Slavs until his death. After his death on April 6, 885, his disciples, the Five Followers, with St. Clement as bishop at the beginning, crossed the Danube and moved towards the south, to Macedonia, where, from Ohrid, they continued the work among the Slavs that Cyril and Methodius had begun in the north.
The invocation Auxilium Christianorum (Help of Christians) originated in the sixteenth century. In 1576 Bernardino Cirillo, archpriest of Loreto, published at Macerreta two litanies of the Bl. Virgin, which, he contended, were used at Loreto: One a form which is entirely different from our present text, and another form (“Aliae litaniae B.M.V.”) identical with the litany of Loreto, approved by Clement VIII in 1601, and now used throughout the entire Church. This second form contains the invocation Auxilium Christianorum.
Possibly the warriors, who, returning from Lepanto (Oct. 7, 1571), visited the sanctuary of Loreto, saluted the Holy Virgin there for the first time with this new title; it is more probable, however, that it is only a variation of the older invocation Advocata Christianorum, found in a litany of 1524. Pope Pius VII instituted the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians.
By order of Napoleon, the Pope was arrested on July 5, 1808, and imprisoned at Savona and Fontainebleau. In Jan. 1814, after the battle of Leipzig, he was brought back to Savona and set free on March 17, the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, the patroness of Savona. The journey to Rome was a veritable triumphal march with the pontiff, attributing the victory of the Church after so much agony and distress, to the Blessed Virgin.
He visited many of her sanctuaries on the way, crowning her images, and entered Rome on May 24, 1814, to enthusiastic crowds. To commemorate his sufferings and those of the Church during his exile, he extended the feast of the Seven Dolors of Mary to the universal Church on Sept. 18, 1814.