July 5th is a Czech national holiday celebrating Saints Cyril and Methodius. Discover more about Czech history through this influential figures.
Who were Cyril and Methodius?
Saints Cyril and Methodius were Byzantine monks and Catholic missionaries who brought Christianity to the area of modern day Czech Republic. The pair were brothers originally from Greece. They arrived in Moravia in 863 A.D. after an invitation from the prince. Cyril and Methodius translated the Bible into the local Slavic language, as they felt it was important to spread their faith using the language of their learners.
The saints are credited with inventing the first literary Slavic alphabet, the Glagolitic alphabet. This alphabet led to the development of Cyrillic script, called “Cyrillic” after Saint Cyril. Cyrillic script today is used in Russian, Ukrainian, and many other languages of the region.
Additionally, the saints successfully spread Christianity to the Slavic regions. The arrival of Christianity to the Czech Republic shaped the political, social, and cultural history of the country for many centuries. Cyril and Methodius are considered national saints in the Czech Republic and many surrounding countries. They also fall in a small group considered patron saints of all Europe.
Holiday and Celebrations
July 5th was chosen as both the feast day and public holiday because it marks when Saints Cyril and Methodius first came to the Slavic region. In the Czech Republic, the holiday provides a day off work. Many offices and businesses close in observance. To celebrate, mass is celebrated at the Basilica of Assumption of Mary and Saints Cyril and Methodius in the village of Velehrad. This town in Moravia is where the saints lived and evangelized. On this day, Czechs both religious and non-religious remember the impact Cyril and Methodius had culturally and intellectually for the development of the nation.