site.btaPresident Radev Attends Liturgy at San Clemente Basilica

President Radev Attends Liturgy at San Clemente Basilica
President Radev Attends Liturgy at San Clemente Basilica
Metropolitan Anthony of Western and Central Europe celebrates divine liturgy at the Basilica of San Clemente, Rome, May 23, 2024 (BTA Photo)

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on Thursday attended a divine liturgy celebrated at the central altar of the Basilica of San Clemente by Metropolitan Anthony of Western and Central Europe.

It was at San Clemente where the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius officiated for the first time in the Slavonic language.

"As direct successors to the lifework of Cyril and Methodius, we must continue to safeguard our literature, culture and faith because they are our invaluable contribution to European civilization," the head of State said. 

"They [Cyril and Methodius] helped our people through the worst ordeals and asserted Bulgaria's statehood," the President added.

Radev recalled that in 867 Pope Adrian II received Cyril and Methodius at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, blessed them, proclaimed them equal to the apostles, and consecrated the liturgical books they carried. "The pope performed a democratic act that was incredible by the standards of that time, practically revoking the dogma known as 'the Trilingual Heresy': that only Latin, Greek and Hebrew were eligible as liturgical languages. This opened the door to many other Slav peoples to embrace the Eastern Orthodox faith," the head of State said.  

"As Bulgarians, we can only be proud of the foresight and statesmanlike scope of Prince Boris I, who welcomed in Bulgaria the disciples of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius and set up literary schools in Ohrid and Preslav. That was the beginning of the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture, spirituality and literature," Radev pointed out.

"Only Bulgarians and the Bulgarian ecclesiastical community are allowed to celebrate a full divine liturgy on the central altar of all places where the holy brothers have officiated," said Father Ivan Ivanov. "We have this unique opportunity which is an exclusive privilege for Bulgarians," said Father Ivan, who is in charge of the Bulgarian ecclesiastical communities in Italy. On Thursday, he was a co-celebrant with Metropolitan Anthony.

At the Basilica of San Clemente, President Radev laid flowers at the chapel holding St Cyril's relics and paid tribute at the saint's tomb.

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St Constantine Cyril the Philosopher (826/827-869) and his brother St Methodius (c. 815-885) made history when, commissioned by Byzantine Emperor Michael III, they invented the Slavonic script in AD 855 and, together with their disciples, started its dissemination in medieval Europe. Their ministry revolutionized the spread of Christianity, making its teachings accessible to common people in their own vernacular five centuries before the Reformation in Western Europe.

Bulgaria adopted the Slavonic alphabet under Prince Boris I (reigned 852-889) as early as in AD 886 as a vehicle of enforcing Old Bulgarian as the single national and liturgical language in the First Bulgarian Empire, and the script spread from there to Kievan Rus, Serbia and other countries.

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By 02:05 on 18.06.2024 Today`s news

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