A stained-glass window depicting Sts. Cyril and Methodius is found in Sacred Heart Cathedral in La Crosse, Wisconsin. (CNS)

These Greek brothers were distinguished even before they became “the apostles of the Slavs.” Cyril taught in Constantinople and Methodius was a provincial governor.

About 863, after ordination, they went as missionaries to Moravia, where they had considerable success, partly because they knew the Slavonic language. But their mission was challenged by Germans seeking to dominate in the area.

In 869, Cyril died in Rome and Methodius was consecrated bishop and returned to his mission. He was imprisoned by the Germans for two years until the pope won his release. He died in 885.

The brothers are associated with Mass in the vernacular, the Cyrillic alphabet and Slavonic literature.

They are the patrons of ecumenists, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania and Europe. They are also considered the patrons of the unity of East and West.