St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia

11 / 24 May

Ss Cyril and Methodius, Equal to the Apostles

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 the Emperor Michael, the Emperor commanded that these two brothers be found and sent to the Khazars. They converted Kagan to the Christian faith and baptised 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 priests and taught the young. They went to Rome at the invitation of the Pope, and Cyril fell ill and died there, on February 14th, 869. Then Methodius returned to Moravia and laboured at the confirming of the Faith among the Slavs until his death. After his death he entered into rest in the Lord on April 6th, 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 Ochrid, they continued the work among the Slavs that Cyril and Methodius had begun in the north; The Hieromartyr Mocius; St Nicodemus, Archbishop of Pec; St. Comgall, founder and abbot of Bangor (c.601).

St Nicodemus, Archbishop of Pec

This great hierarch was a Serb by birth. He lived a life of asceticism on Holy Mt. Athos and was abbot of Hilendar Monastery. Following the death of Sava III, he was elected as the Archbishop of "All the Serbs and the Coastal Lands" in the year 1317 A.D. Nicodemus crowned King Milutin in the year 1321 A.D. He translated the Jerusalem Typikon into Serbian. [The Typikon is a book containing the rubrics (directions) for the celebration of the Divine Mysteries and other offices of the Orthodox Church.] In the introduction of this book, Nicodemus says: "Almighty God, Who knows our weaknesses, will give us spiritual strength, but only if we first display effort." He sincerely loved the ascetical life and laboured to strengthen it throughout the Serbian land. He laboured relentlessly to uproot the Bogomil heresy and to strengthen the Orthodox Faith. He died in the Lord in the year 1325 A.D. His miracle-working relics repose in the monastery in Pec.; St. Comgall, founder and abbot of Bangor (c.601).

St. Mayeul, abbot of Cluny (994)

[Also known as Majolus] was born in Avignon, France in 906. He became a canon of Mâcon. To escape being named Bishop of Besançon he became a monk at Cluny. In 965 he was elected Abbot and governed over Cluny for almost 50 years. The trust he inspired in Popes and Princes created the opportunity for him to exert a great influence on his time, and he reformed a great number of monasteries. In 973, Abbot Mayeul was returning home after a visit in Rome, accompanied by a large group of men from other countries who felt more secure traveling in the company of the saint. On their passage through the Alps, they were attacked by the Saracens of Freysinet, who took them captive and enchained them. Greatly afflicted, the holy Abbot prayed to God that none of his company would be killed, and his prayers were heard. On one occasion, some of the Moors who were holding the captives began to mock his Faith. St. Mayeul made a strong response, showing the truth of our Faith and the falsity of theirs. Irritated by this, they closed up the saint in a deep cave. In it he found a book, Treatise of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin, attributed to St. Jerome. He asked the Virgin Mary that he might be free to celebrate the feast day of the Assumption among Catholics. After making his prayer, he miraculously found himself free of his chains. The Arabs, stupefied, began to treat him with respect. He also wrote to Cluny asking them to send his ransom fee and that of his companions. During the time awaiting the response, the Arabs prepared special bread for him, since he would not partake of theirs. Once a Saracen stepped on St. Mayeul's Bible, and was reprehended by his companions. That day the same man got into a fight with another Arab, and in it he lost the very foot that he had used to step on the Holy Book. When the ransom money arrived, he was freed and was able to celebrate on the he Feast of the Assumption.

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