Czech Republic, Slovakia commemorate anniversary of arrival of Saints Cyril, Methodius
July 11, 2013
At separate Masses attended by Church and civil leaders, the Czech Republic and Slovakia commemorated the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the apostles of the Slavs, in Great Moravia. Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Josip Bozani? of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to the solemn Mass on July 5 in Velehrad, the Czech village of 1,300 where St. Methodius died. President Miloš Zeman and Prime Minister Ji?í Rusnok were among the 80,000 pilgrims. Pope Francis also appointed Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as his special envoy to the solemn Mass on July 5 in Nitra, a city of 85,000 that was the nation’s first episcopal see. President Ivan Gašparovi? paid tribute to the saints as “great teachers, scientists, missionaries, linguists, lawyers, diplomats and outstanding figures.” Saints Cyril and Methodius are the subject of two papal encyclicals--Grande Munus (1880) and Slavorum Apostoli (1985)--and Blessed John Paul II declared them co-patrons of Europe in his apostolic letter Egregiae Virtutis (1980). 32% of Czechs, and 74% of Slovaks, are Catholic.
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