Cyril vs. Methodius

Today, in the only Saturday match-up of Lent Madness, it's the Slavic Smackdown® as Cyril takes on Methodius. While much of the world is preparing for Valentine's Day (named for a confusing muddle of murky, martyred saints in ancient Rome), the church actually celebrates Cyril and Methodius on February 14, not Saint(s) Valentinus. So go ahead and cast your vote and then show your devotion to your "Valentine" by writing a love poem in Cyrillic or serving up a big bowl of borscht.

Yesterday, Absalom Jones defeated Matthias 82% to 18% (in other words, by A LOT--get it?) in the first genuine blowout of Lent Madness 2016. He'll go on to face the winner of Christina Rossetti vs. Joseph in the next round. Really, it's bad luck for Matthias. He certainly drew the short straw in the match-up calendar.

Tomorrow, enjoy Sunday (we highly encourage church attendance) and then be ready to go bright and early on Monday morning as Lent Madness returns with what should prove to be a hotly contested battle between Julian of Norwich and William Wilberforce.



Cyril was born in Thessalonica (located in today’s Macedonia) around 827. Educated in Constantinople, he studied theology, Hebrew, and Arabic and became a priest. He was sent on two missions to the Middle East. Cyril’s most influential mission took him and his brother Methodius to the Slavs of Great Moravia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia). Although missionaries from Rome had already evangelized Moravia, Prince Rastislav wanted to place his state firmly under the influence of the church in Constantinople.

To translate the Bible and the liturgy into the local language, Cyril and Methodius used a number of mostly Greek characters to create the Glagolitic alphabet. This was the first Slavic alphabet and is closely related to the more recent Cyrillic alphabet—named after Cyril. Using their new alphabet, Cyril and Methodius translated the Bible, the Slavic Civil Code, and possibly a Slavic liturgy. Cyril and Methodius were successful in converting many Slavs to Christianity and establishing the use of their alphabet; because of jurisdictional issues, they could not establish the Slavic liturgy without the pope’s approval.

Cyril and his brother traveled to Rome, where they were well received, in part because they brought with them some of Saint Clement’s relics. Pope Adrian II authorized the new Slavic liturgy, and Slavic priests were ordained and allowed to celebrate the liturgy in their native language. Cyril became a monk and died shortly afterward, in 869.

Along with his brother Methodius, Cyril is known as one of the two apostles to the Slavs. Celebrations in memory of these brothers are held across Eastern Europe every year.

— Hugo Olaiz



Quietly, and without any fanfare, Methodius helped shape Europe and Asia in ways that have often gone largely unnoticed by Western Christianity.

Methodius (Michael) was born to a Christian family in the city of Thessalonica in the early ninth century. Methodius was the eldest of seven brothers, and he either learned the Slavic language from Slav migrants in Macedonia, or possibly from his mother (who may have been a Slav).

After a brief career in the public sphere, Methodius entered a monastery at Mount Olympus (present day Uludağ). Eventually his youngest brother Constantine (later taking the name Cyril) joined Methodius at the monastery. From the monastery, the brothers set out on a series of missionary journeys.

They shared a passion to share the good news in the native language of the people to whom they were ministering, not relying solely on Hebrew, Greek, and Latin translations of the Bible. And so they set about translating portions of scripture into Slavic and to create a Slavic liturgy. To do this, they invented an alphabet unique to the Slavic tongue. The later evolution of this script is known as the Cyrillic Alphabet and is still widely used across Eastern Europe.

Cyril-methodius-smallWhile traveling and sharing the gospel, Methodius and Cyril created a code of law that is still in use to this day. The brothers also discovered the remains of Pope Clement I. They returned the earthly remains of Clement to Rome, where Methodius was ordained a priest by Pope Adrian II. Following the death of Cyril in Rome, Methodius continued the work of carrying the gospel to the Slavs.

Collect for Cyril and Methodius
Almighty and everlasting God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: Overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

— David Hansen

Cyril vs. Methodius

  • Methodius (65%, 4,567 Votes)
  • Cyril (35%, 2,504 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,071

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Cyril and Methodius: Cyril and Methodius depicted on a
Russian icon from 18th/19th century
"Saints Cyril and Methodius holding the Cyrillic alphabet,"
a mural by Bulgarian iconographer Z. Zograf, 1848, Troyan Monastery


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405 comments on “Cyril vs. Methodius”

  1. This is surreal (pun intended) and I've even considered taking on the task of rewriting the words to supercalifragelisticexpialidocious so I could rhyme something easily with "there's something weird about Cyril's brother Methidocious"... only to realize I was being over melodious in mispronouncing dear Methodius... (and misspelling, adding an extra syllable...) Oh God, gotta stop!

  2. Yes, very hard to choose since their contribution was as a team. I voted Methodius because it seems he is less known.

  3. Charles Wesley did beat out John in a former competition. There is the Methodist link...I vote for Methodius.

      1. Me too. I am a bit disappointed that I don't see any real Wesleyan types in this year's line-up of contestants. Methodius may be as close as we get this year. Certainly next year's organizers might consider some good Wesleyans--like E. Stanley Jones, Mary McLeod Bethune, St. Jane (who John Wesley said had attained "perfection", Bishop Marjorie Matthews, Amanda Smith, Bishop Leontine Kelly..Please include one or two REAL Wesleyans next year.

  4. Oh, Lent Madness, I see a little temptation to encourage division rather than unity. I call foul in pitting 2 brothers who worked together to share the gospel with the Slavs. I call foul in voting for Methodius simply because he is the elder brother and lived longer. In the end I voted for Cyril for this reason, in the Bible, the older brother is often passed over in favor of the younger, usually through deviousness on the part of the younger son. Therefore, I call your deviousness and cast my vote for Cyril

  5. I live in a city with lots of Slavs and Slav heritage, Cyril & Methodius is like a song-can't be separated. Never have seen a church for St. Methodius without the other ubiquitous Cyril. So, I also would say they should not be divided in voting. We needed both Romulus & Remus for Rome, same for Lent Madness--no dividing.

  6. Resisting a choice between brothers who did most of their ministry together, I selected Methodius who seems to have been the junior partner of the enterprise. Given my proclivity for the underdog. I see Methodius is ahead -- I wonder how many people made their choice for the same reason.

    Also, I'm United Methodist, which other than the sound, is completely irrelevent to this!

  7. I wanted to vote for both. As a better alternative to not voting and as a test to see if the SEC is really managing voter fraud. Why do they put us in positions like this?

    1. Actually, based on experience during my first year of Lent Madness years ago, the SEC is a power you don't mess with. They DO know. If you have two voters in a household, it helps to let them know. I think they worry most during the final days of the smackdowns when things get very serious indeed.... So, if you are planning to invite a few friends over to vote and they use your machine, watch out.

  8. If only we could see the votes cast already before we cast our vote, we could engineer what truly should happen, a tie between the two brothers. Couldn't we put them together and if they win, give them a double halo?

  9. I voted for Methodius because Cyril already had an alphabet named after him and it seems as if Methodius may have had a big influence in Cyril's ministry. I know I had an older sister whose kindness, and good example led the way for many of my decisions in life.

  10. Two brothers, in ministry together makes his a close-to-impossible call, but my vote goes to Cyril, currently the underdog -- my own Madness at work here.

  11. Since I am a Methodist I decided to go with Methodius in the Madness of pitting brothers against one another. Again! Does the SEC have something against family??

  12. I also agree this is an unfair competition, for what God did through one God did through the other as well. But, as a United Methodist pastor I found that the name Methodius opened a large door for us with a metropolitan in the Russian Orthodox Church when we got to explain how we did not come directly from their saint but from two other brothers who did what they did for God with method.

  13. Since when are elections fair? Since when is life fair? So we opt out of making a decision because it's "not fair"? My life doesn't offer a "fairness" option when making decisions and taking action. It wasn't fair that Cyril was born last so that makes a good reason to vote for him.

    1. Oh, yes, Brother Gregory's story about Brother Cyril is a memory I won't soon forget. The entire book of poetry is a treasure that is available on Google books and worth reading. For those of you who don't know about this collection, here is the url:

  14. I am choosing not to vote. Maybe the SEC could move them to the next round as a pair? Methodius and Cyril vs. the winner of Lawrence and Albert Schweitzer.

    1. YES! SEC please fix this mistake and move this dynamic duo to pair against the winner of the next round. You have it in your power to correct this separation... looking forward to seeing you do the right thing.

  15. Wow what passionate Saturday reasoning; I reckon it's good there's only one Saturday vote, or one contest between brothers. So toad versus competing Protestant sect?
    Younger brother votes for younger bro, and awaits Cyrilic alphabet soup.

  16. Devilishly hard decision. I agree that the two seem inseparable, and this is an unfair contest. I seem to remember there have been unfair contests in previous Lenten seasons. Nevertheless, i will vote for the older, presumed leader, who also must have been quite humble to encourage the younger brother to such creative work as inventing the alphabet, and because the bio was better written, in my opinion. So a vote for Methodius is my choice, but only by a hair!

  17. Methodius had the greatest challenge with several siblings to convince his younger brother to convert with such devotion and dedicate his life to one of service. Perhaps Methodius will come to his younger brother's rescue later in the competition to have BOTH equally acknowledged in the brackets. My vote is for Methodius -- the first to adopt a life in the faith and the influencer of his little brother.

  18. Methodius was obviously an introvert ("Quiet and without fanfare...") and we introverts tend to get the short end of the stick even though it is usually our quiet thoughtful reasoning of which great decisions are made. I'll bet that when it came to deciding what to call the alphabet, Methodius deferred to his kid brother and said "Name it after him." Having lots of Slavic blood in my veins and also having 2 brothers, I am hoping for a tie. But since I can't vote for both, my vote this time went to the introvert.

  19. I think there is a good possibility that Methodius would still be sitting in his comfortable monastery if Cyril hadn't come along and shaken things up. I think Methodius was the Samwise to Cyril's Frodo. Which one should we seek to emulate? I will ponder all these things in my heart.

  20. My late and well-loved father-in-law was a Methodist pastor, so I had to vote for St. Methodius.

  21. On second thought -- perhaps --- Cyril will win in the end -- afterall we have the Cyrillic alphabet not the Methodious alphabet
    Is there such a thing as a write-in vote?
    DANG my Cyrillic keyboard is on my iPhone not my tablet -- or I would have illustrated Cyril's contribution (no doubt with Methodius' influence and guidance)

  22. Charles and John Wesley were paired in the first round of 2014, and Charles went on to win the halo. I don't know which of them was the older brother. The oldest and youngest of a large brood is an interesting pairing. I'll bet Methodius was like a surrogate Dad to young Cyril. And outlived him. What a shame. As one firstborn, I cast my pair of pigeons for Methodius.

  23. I completely agree that it would have made much sense to offer these two as one. From our vantage point, their stories are basically the same. So do you vote for the one who went to Glory first, or to the one who spent more time in his life on Earth? What they did *together* is commendable.

  24. Methodius, because he was the older brother and thus likely influenced Cyril. Also because I have a brother (R.I.P.) and son named Michael.