Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius

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Yes, yes, we know that today is Valentine’s Day. But, if you are of Slavic origin, or if you speak and write using the Cyrillic alphabet, today’s memorial trumps candy hearts and greeting cards. It is the day we remember Saints Cyril and Methodius, who, with St. Benedict, are the patron saints of Europe.

The Pope stood with the brothers, who are blessed and honored to this day in Central and Eastern Europe.

These saints were brothers, and brother monks, born in Greece in the ninth century. They were sent as missionaries to the Khazars, a tribe in what is now southern Russia. Before they began spreading the gospel, they learned the Khazar language.

From Russia, they went to Moravia (which is part of what we know as the Czech Republic) and there, they once again learned the native tongue, Slavonic, before they began preaching and teaching. At the time they learned Slavonic, it had no written alphabet. So the brothers used their native Greek letters to compose a Slavonic alphabet. To this day, it bears a name, Cyrillic, which honors St. Cyril.

The brothers used this new alphabet to translate the Bible and liturgical books. Some church officials denounced the use of a “barbaric” language for holy scriptures and holy rites. But the Pope stood with the brothers, who are blessed and honored to this day in Central and Eastern Europe for their faithfulness in bringing Christ to these lands.

Here in the West see lots of red on this day: red boxes full of Valentine’s candy, red roses, red hearts. So, keep the red and celebrate Ss. Cyril and Methodius with a bowl of beautiful, red borscht. (We got this recipe from Elise Bauer over at Simply Recipes.)

Borscht Recipe

Yield: Serves 6.


8 cups beef broth*

1 pound slice of meaty bone-in beef shank

1 large onion, peeled, quartered

4 large beets, peeled, chopped

4 carrots, peeled, chopped

1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 cups thinly sliced cabbage

3/4 cup chopped fresh dill

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

*Use gluten-free broth if you are cooking gluten-free


1 Bring 4 cups of the beef broth, the beef shank, and onion to boil in large pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes.

2 Transfer meat to work surface; trim fat, sinew and bone and discard. Chop meat; cover and chill. Cool broth slightly. Chill in pot until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

3 Spoon fat from top of chilled broth and discard. Add remaining 4 cups broth, beets, carrots, and potato; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

4 Stir in meat, cabbage and 1/2 cup dill; cook until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in vinegar.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream and remaining 1/4 cup dill.