Reference > Rev. Alban Butler > Lives of the Saints > December
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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume XII: December.
The Lives of the Saints.  1866.
 
December 22
SS. Cyril and Methodius, Confessors
 
CONSTANTINE, who was afterwards called Cyril, was born at Thessalonica, of an illustrious senatorial Roman family. He had his education at Constantinople, and by his great progress in learning deserved to be surnamed The Philosopher; but piety was the most shining part of his character. He was promoted to the priesthood, and served the church with great zeal. St. Ignatius being advanced to the patriarchal dignity in 846, Photius set himself to decry his virtues, and disputed that every man has two souls. St. Cyril reproved him for this error. Photius answered him, that he meant not to hurt any one, but to try the abilities and logic of Ignatius. To which wretched excuse Cyril replied: “You have thrown your darts into the midst of the crowd, yet pretend no one will be hurt. How great soever the eyes of your wisdom may be, they are blinded by the smoke of avarice and envy. Your passion against Ignatius deprived you of your sight.” This is related by Anastasius the bibliothecarian, and the aforesaid error was condemned in the eighth general council. 1 The Chazari at that time desired baptism. These were a tribe of Turci, the most numerous and powerful nation of the Huns in European Scythia. In the sixth century they were divided into seven, sometimes into ten tribes, governed by so many independent chagans, that is, chams or kings. 2 They drove the Abares, and other nations of the Huns, from the banks of the Ethel, since called Volga, towards the Danube, in the reigns of the Emperors Mauricius and Tiberius, who both honoured them with their alliance, and two pompous embassies, described at large by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenetta, 3 and by Theophylactus Simocatta. The chazari, who descended from the Turci, 4 had possessed themselves of a territory near Germany, upon the banks of the Danube, which Porphyrogenetta describes in his time to have had the Bulgarians on the east, the Patzinacitæ (who came also from the Volga) on the north, Moravia on the west, and on the south the Scrobati, a tribe of Bulgarians settled in the mountains. This nation, by a solemn embassy, addressed themselves to the Emperor Michael III. and his pious mother Theodora, begging that some priests might be sent to instruct them in the faith, the empress sent for St. Ignatius, the patriarch, and by his advice and authority St. Cyril was charged with this important mission. This happened in the year 848, as Henschenius and Jos. Assemani prove; not in 843, as Cohlius writes. The language of the Chazari was not the Sclavonian, as Henschenius thinks, but that of the Huns or Turci, which was entirely different, says Assemani. That Cyril understood the Sclavonian, Greek, and Latin languages, is clear from the two histories of his life. That for this mission he learned also the Turcic, which was spoken by the Huns, Chazari, and Tartars, we cannot doubt. In a short time he instructed and baptized the cham, and his whole nation, and having settled his church under the care of able pastors, returned to Constantinople, absolutely refusing to accept any part of the great presents with which the prince would have honoured him.  1
  The saint’s second mission was to the Bulgarians, in which his devout brother, Methodius, a monk, was his chief assistant. The Bulgari were a Scythian nation, not of the Huns, but of the Sclavi, whose language was quite different from that of the Turci and all the Huns. They seem to have been originally planted near the Volga, and to have retired at the same time with the Abaras upon the coming of the numerous swarm of the Turci from the coasts of the Caspian sea, under their cham Turaathus, as Evagrius, Theophanes, and Simocatta relate. The Bulgari are first mentioned near the Danube, about the year 634, when Cobratus their king, made an alliance with the emperor Heraclius against the Abares, as Theophanes and the patriarch Nicephorus inform us. The Servii were another nation of the Sclavi, who accompanied the Bulgari, and founded the kingdom of Servia. The Bulgari possessed themselves of the ancient Mysia and Dacia, on both sides of the Danube, now Wallachia, Moldavia, and part of Hungary. They came from the banks of the Volga, in the reign of Anastasius, and erected here a mighty kingdom. 5  2
 
 
  The first seeds of the conversion of this barbarous nation were sown by certain Grecian captives taken at Adrianople, in the reign of the emperor Basil the Macedonian: but this great work was completed many years after by the following means. Boigoris, king of the Bulgarians, was inclined to the faith by the assiduous long persuasions of his sister, who had zealously embraced it at Constantinople, having been taken captive, and detained a long time in the court of the pious empress Theodora. But human motives hardened his heart till God was pleased to awaken him by a more powerful call. The prince, who was passionately fond of hunting, desired the emperor to procure him a picture which should be a curious hunting piece. Methodius, according to the custom of many devout monks of that age, employed himself in drawing pious pictures, and excelled in that art. He was, therefore, sent to the court of the king, who, having built a new palace, was desirous to adorn it with paintings. He gave the good monk an order to draw him some piece, which, by the very sight would strike terror into those that beheld it. Methodius, thinking nothing more awful than the general judgment, represented in the most lively colours, and with exquisite art, that awful scene, with kings, princes, and people standing promiscuously before the throne of the great Judge, who appeared armed with all the terrors of infinite majesty and justice, attended by angels: some were placed on the right hand, and others on the left. The moving sight, and still much more the explication of every part of this dreadful scene, strongly affected the mind of the king, who, from that moment, resolved to banish all other suggestions, and to be instructed in the faith: in which Methodius was ready to assist him. He was baptized by Greek priests, not at Constantinople, as some mistake, but in Bulgaria: for all our historians add, that upon the news that the king had been baptized in the night, the people took arms the next morning, and marched in open rebellion towards the palace. But the king, taking a little cross which he carried in his breast, put himself at the head of his guards, and easily defeated the rebels. At his baptism he took the name of Michael. In a short time his people imitated his example, and embraced the faith. 6 Pagi places the baptism of this king in 861. Baronius and Henschenius in 845. Joseph Assemani in 865. The newly converted king sent ambassadors to Pope Nicholas I., with letters and presents, begging instructions what more he ought to do. 7 The pope, with letters, sent legates to congratulate with him, in 867. The legates, being bishops, gave the sacrament of confirmation to those who had been baptized by the Greek priests, though these had before, according to the rite of their church, anointed them with chrism: which the Latins indeed have always done, but on the head, in baptism, not on the forehead. The same legates also taught the Bulgarians to fast on Saturdays: which points gave offence to Photius, who, in 866, had schismatically usurped the patriarchal see, and banished St. Ignatius. Some Bulgarians had been baptized in cases of necessity by laymen, and even by infidels. Pope Nicholas I. declared this baptism to be good and valid, and answered several other difficulties in the beginning of the year 867. 8 SS. Cyril and Methodius had laboured in the conversion of the Bulgarians, though jointly with several other priests, not only Greeks, but also Armenians: concerning whose different rites of discipline the Bulgarians consulted Pope Nicholas I. as he testifies in his answer. Our two saints passed from this country into Moravia, so called from a river of that name.  3
  The first mention of the Moravians we find made in 825, by Pope Eugenius II. in an epistle to the bishop of Faviana, 9 now called Vienna, anciently Vindobona, in which he appoints the archbishop of Lorc (which see was since removed to Saltzburg) vicar of the apostolic see in that nation. The Moravians and Carinthians were Sclavonian nations which had seized on these countries. The latter were governed by dukes, the former by kings, having first chosen Samo, a Frenchman from Senogagus, a country near Brussels, who had valiantly defended them against the Avares or Huns of Pannonia, in 622. The most powerful of these kings was Swetopelech, whose kingdom extended to Pomerania, in the end of the seventh age, according to Assemani. Two contending dukes, Moymar and Priwina, or Prinnina, ruled in Moravia, in 850, though this country had been certainly subject to Charlemagne, no less than Bavaria and Pannonia, as Eginhard relates. Moymar being slain, Rastices, his nephew, received the crown of Moravia from Lewis, king of Germany, in 846. He is by Henschenius called also Suadopluch, but falsely, as Assemani proves from the annals of Fulda. This pious prince invited the two missionaries into Moravia, and was baptized by them, with a considerable part of his subjects, who had been inclined to think favourably of Christianity by the example of the Bavarians, whom St. Robert, bishop of Worms, and founder of the archbishopric of Saltzburg, had begun to convert to the faith. Rastices dying, his nephew and successor Swadopluch persecuted the church. Augustine, in his catalogue of the bishops of Olmutz 10 and Dubravius, 11 says St. Cyril was ordained first archbishop of the Moravians. 12 This latter relates that Boriway or Borivorius, duke of Bohemia, was converted by hearing Cyril and Methodius preach the faith, and, being baptized by the latter, he called him into Bohemia, where his wife Ludmilla, his children, and a great part of his people received the sacrament of regeneration, which, according to Cosmas of Prague, in his chronicle, happened in 894. St. Methodius founded at Prague the church of our Lady; another of SS. Peter and Paul, and many others over the kingdom. 13 The two brothers Cyril and Methodius are styled bishops of the Moravians in Muscovite calendars, and in the Roman Martyrology. But in the Polish Breviary and other monuments it is said that Cyril died a monk, and that only Methodius was consecrated archbishop after his brother’s death. And their second life, published by Henschenius, says expressly that the two brothers, being called by Pope Nicholas to Rome, upon their arrival found him dead, and Adrian II. pope: that Cyril put on the monastic habit, and died soon after in that city, before he received the episcopal consecration. And Pope John VIII. in 879, wrote as follows to the Moravians: “Methodius, your archbishop, ordained by our predecessor Adrian, and sent to you,” &c. Whereas he calls Cyril only the philosopher, of whom he writes to Count Sfentopulk, “The Sclavonian letters or alphabet invented by Constantine the philosopher, that the praises of God may be sung, we justly commend.” 14  4
  From this testimony of John VIII. and the ancient lives of St. Cyril, it is evident that the Sclavonian alphabet was invented, not by St. Jerom, but by those two apostles of that nation: 15 which is also related by an ancient author, who wrote in 878, published by Freher. 16 Cyril and Methodius translated the liturgy into the Sclavonian tongue, and instituted mass to be said in the same. The archbishop of Saltzburg and the archbishop of Mentz, jointly with their suffragans, wrote two letters, still extant, to pope John VIII. to complain of this novelty introduced by the archbishop Methodius. Hereupon the pope, in 878, by two letters, one addressed to Tuvantarus, count of Moravia, and the other to Methodius, whom he styles archbishop of Pannonia, cited the latter to come to Rome, forbidding him in the mean time to say mass in a barbarous tongue. Methodius obeyed, and, repairing to Rome, gave ample satisfaction to the pope, who confirmed to him the privileges of the archiepiscopal see of the Moravians, declared him exempt from all dependence on the archbishop of Saltzburg, and approved for the Sclavonians the use of the liturgy and breviary in their own tongue, as he testifies in his letter to Count Sfendopulk, still extant. 17 It is clear from the letters of Pope John, and from the two lives of this saint, that this affair had never been discussed either by Pope Nicholas or Pope Adrian, as Bona and some others have mistaken. The Sclavonian tongue is to this day used in the liturgy in that church. The Sclavonian missal was revised by an order of Urban VIII. in 1631, and his brief and approbation are prefixed to this missal printed at Rome, in 1745, at the expense of the Congregation De Propaganda Fide. By the same Congregation, in 1688, was printed at Rome, by order of Innocent XI. the Sclavonian breviary, with the brief of Innocent X. prefixed, by which it is approved and enjoined. 18 The Sclavonians celebrate the liturgy in this tongue at Leghorn, Aquileia, and in other parts of Italy.  5
  When St. Methodius was returned from Rome he had much to suffer from the invective and opposition of some neighbouring bishop, perhaps of Passau or Saltzburg, in Bavaria. For St. Rodbert or Rupert, bishop of Worms, in 699, had converted the Boij or Baivarij, and having established the archbishopric of Juva, or Saltzburg, returned to Worms, and there St. Rupert’s successors, especially St. Virgilius, converted the Carinthians, who were also Sclavonians, 19 and their successors complained of the erection of the archbishopric of Moravia as a curtailing of their ancient jurisdiction. But Pope John VIII. supported the exemption of the archbishopric of Moravia, and justified the conduct of St. Methodius. Hearing of the persecution he met with from the neighbouring bishops, he wrote to him in 881, congratulating with him upon the success of his labours and the purity of his faith, tenderly exhorting him to patience, and to overcome evil with good, and promising to support him in his dignity, and in all his undertakings for the honour of God. 20 St. Methodius planted the faith with such success, that the nations which he cultivated with his labours became models of fervour and zeal. Boigoris or Michael, the first Christian king of Bulgaria, renounced his crown about the year 880, and putting on the monastic habit, led an angelical life on earth. Stredowski, in his Sacra Moraviæ Historia, styles SS. Cyril and Methodius the apostles of Moravia, Upper Bohemia, Silesia, Cazria, Croatia, Circassia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Russia, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Dacia, Carinthia, Carniola, and of almost all the Sclavonian nations. St. Methodius lived to an advanced old age, though the year of his death is not certain. The Greeks and Muscovites honour St. Cyril on the 14th of February; and St. Methodius on the 11th of May. The Roman Martyrology joins them both together on the 9th of March. Dubravius and others attribute to them many miracles; which Baronius also mentions in his notes on the Roman Martyrology. He adds, that the relics of these two brothers were lately found under the altar of a very ancient chapel in the church of St. Clement in Rome, and are still honourably preserved in that church. Octavius Panciroli, in Thesauris absconditis Almæ Urbis, and Henschenius say the same; but the latter shows that some small portions have been translated into Moravia, and are enshrined in the collegiate church at Brune. See the two lives of SS. Cyril and Methodius, published by Henschenius ad diem 9 Martij. See also Kohlius in Historia Codicis sacri Sclavonici, and in his Introductio in Historiam et Rem literariam Sclavorum. Altonaviæ, 1729. Also at length Stredowski, in Sacra Moraviæ Historia, Kulcynzki, Specimen Eccl. Ruthenicæ, 1733.  6
 
Note 1. Can. 11, Conc. t. 8, p, 1132. [back]
Note 2. Jos. Assem. Orig. Eccl. Slav. t. 2 et 3. [back]
Note 3. Pandextæ Hist. de Legationibus, p. 161. [back]
Note 4. From these ancient Turci among the Huns in Sythia, some think the Turks among the Oygyzian Tartars in Asia to be descended; likewise the Tartars of Crimea. But Constantine Porphyrogenetta (l. de regendo imperio ad Romanum filium) and other Byzantine writers, call also the Hungari, and other northern nations, whether of Europe or Asia, by the same name, Turci. [back]
Note 5. Their kingdom flourished till John, their last king, being slain in 1018, Basil II. added Bulgaria to the empire: upon which also the Chazari, Patzinacæ, and Croats voluntarily submitted to him. [back]
Note 6. See the two lives of St. Cyril, Constantine Porphr. Curopalates, Cedrenus, Zonaras. [back]
Note 7. Anastas. Bibl. in Nicolao I. et ipse Nicolaus ep. 70. ad Hincmar, &c. [back]
Note 8. See his Responsa ad Consulta Bulgarorum, Conc. t. 7, p. 1542. [back]
Note 9. See Hansizius, in Germania Sacra, t. 1, p. 71. [back]
Note 10. Inter rerum Bohemic Scriptores Hannoviæ, 1632. [back]
Note 11. Hist. Bohemicæ, l. 4. [back]
Note 12. Moravia derives its name from the river Mahar, which, crossing this country, falls into the Danube near Poson, and gave the denomination of Mahar Sclavonians to those Sclavonians who settled in this province, conquered by Charlemagne, under whose successors several princes governed it. Bohemia took its name Beheim from the Boii, and retained it after the Marcomanni had expelled them, as Tacitus observes; also after a tribe of Sclavonians had expelled the latter, before Charlemagne’s troops subdued it in 805. See D’Anville, p. 37. The Boii passed into Boiaria, called in the country Bayer, in modern Latin Bavaria, ib. p. 45. Poland, called from Pole, a plain or open country, then not reaching beyond the Vistula, was conquered by Otho I., was subject to Otho III., St. Henry II., &c. became independent under elective dukes. A tribe of Sclavonians invaded it; but a very different language, which has several words derived from the Latin, reigns in Lithuania, Samogitia, and Prussia, which points out a nation of a different original. [back]
Note 13. The Sclavi, according to Kohlius, Kulcinius, Hofman, and Jos. Assemani, took their name from their military achievements or glory. Whence are derived the names Winceslas, Stanislas, Ladislas, &c. This was a modern name of a Sarmatian people who dwelt from the Sarmatian sea to the Palus Mæotis, and were in some kind of subjection to the Huns or Tartars. A numerous troop of those Sclavi swarming abroad, fell upon the north of Germany, and, expelling the Vandals, a Teutonic or German nation, &c. settled themselves in Pomerania, now Brandenburg, &c. Another numerous colony seized on Illyricum, subduing there the Goths, a German people, and Huns, about the time when Justinian filled the imperial throne, as Constantine Porphyrogenetta, Procopius, &c. testify. Salona, the capital of Dalmatia, being destroyed, two new cities arose which disputed the preeminence, Ragusa and Spalatum; the latter of which sprung and took its name from the palace of Dioclesian built there. (See Jos. Assemani, t. 3, p. 309. Bundurius in the history of his own country, Ragusa; and John Lucius, l. de regno Dalmatiæ et Creatiæ.) The Sclavi also acquired new settlements in Poland and Bohemia, as the affinity of the languages of those countries demonstrates. Helmoldus, in his Chronicon Sclavorum, (c. 1,) says, “The Danes and Suenones, or Swedes, whom we call Northmanni, inhabit the northern coast of the (Baltic) sea. But the southern coast is peopled by the Sclavi, among whom the first towards the east are the Russi, then the Poloni, who have on the north the Pruzi, on the south the Boemi, and those that are called Moravi and Carinthij.” Assemani demonstrates that the Sclavonians were original inhabitants of part of Scythia and Sarmatia; but strangers in Germany, Poland, Bohemia, Pannonia, Dalmatia, and Illyricum. (See his Origines Sclavorum, t. 2 et 3.) The Patzinacitæ were also Sclavonians by extraction, who, pouring down upon the borders of the empire, made themselves masters of part of the ancient Dacia, where they were often troublesome to the Roman and Greek emperors, till they were subdued by John Comnenus. Their name was by the Greeks softened into Ulahi, at present Valachi. (See Lucius de regno Dalmatiæ et Croatiæ, l. 6, c. 5. Allatius, &c.) Many derive the name Valachi from Italici; because in Valachia and Moldavia the language is a corrupted Latin like the modern Italian; for this people descended from Trajan’s broken legions and colonies of Ulpia Trajana and others, which that prince established here in his war against Decebalus, king of Dacia, when he built his bridge of wood over the Danube. The Valachian language has a mixture of Sclavonian and several Hungarian, Greek, and Turkish words. Zechus and Checus, who founded the Bohemian state about the year 650, were Sclavonians, and are said by some to have been brothers. [back]
Note 14. Ep. 194, ad Tuvantarum. [back]
Note 15. Ep. 247, ad Sfendopulchrum Comitem. [back]
Note 16. Inter Scriptor. Rerum Bohemic. See De Peysonnel, Observ. Histor. et Geogr. Paris, 1765. [back]
Note 17. See Hansizius, t. 1, Germ. Sacr. p. 163, et Assemani, Orig. Eccl. Sclavor. t. 3, p. 173, et Joan. VIII. ep. 247, ann. 880, ad Sfendopulchrum Comitem Moraviæ. [back]
Note 18. The Sclavonian tongue is the most extensive of any extant, except the Arabic. The Goths and Vandals were both Teutonic or German nations, though originally settled in the countries beyond the Baltic. Sclavonians have been only confounded with the Vandals; because they expelled that nation from several countries which they had conquered, and settled themselves in them. The Sclavonians were, on the contrary, of a different original, from Sarmatia, on the coasts of the Sarmatian sea, and the Sinus Codanus, or straits of the Sound and Belt in Denmark, to the Taurica Chersonesus. For the Finni or Vinni, in Finland, and the Venedi or Vendi, who, expelling the Vandals, inhabited the coast of Pomerania as far as Cimbrica Chersonesus, were Sclavonians from Sarmatia. These latter changed the German, i. e. the Vandalic, names of places, to substitute others of their own Sarmatian language, as Lubeck, Rostock, Wismar, Stargradt, &c. In like manner, when they reached Illyricum, they banished the Latin names of the towns Segeste, Delminium, Salone, Promona, Terponum, Metulium, &c., to give others of their own, Zagrabia, Cluz, Camenigrad, Bielograd, Norigrad, Cremen, &c., and in the rivers Naro and Jaum, which they called Reka and Dobra. Whence it is manifest that they were strangers, not original inhabitants, in Illyricum and Sclavonia. In St. Jerom’s time, Latin was the common language in Dalmatia and Illyricum: and this that father evidently means when he speaks of his own tongue.
  The Patainacites were a nation of the Venedi and Sclavonians, who took their name from the city of Posnania in Poland, as Leun-Clavius tells us: they were situate between the Volga and Circassia. About the year 800, the Uzes and Magdiars, from the coast of the Caspian sea about Usbeck, and the Cazares, from Taurica Chersonesus, all originally Turks or Huns from Great Tartary or Asiatic Scythia, drove out the Patzinacitæ, who fled between the Nieper and the Donn, and as far as the Danube, and penetrated into Walachia, Moldavia, and even Moravia; some time after, Bosnia became their last asylum, called from them by changing P. into B: in which province the language is a dialect of the Sclavonian. The Uzes and Magdiars succeeded them in Moldavia and Walachia, and penetrated into Transylvania and Hungary. The Uzes are the Housards at this day.
  The Bulgarians from the coast of the Caspian sea founded Great Bulgary on the banks of the Volga, from which river, or their capital city Bulgar, near its banks, their name is derived. They seized on Scythia Pontica, (separated by Constantine the Great,) the second or Oriental Mœsia near the Euxine sea. Upper Mœsia reached on the south banks of the Danube to the conflux of the Saave; and Dacia comprised the northern bank of the Danube from the Euxine sea, now Moldavia, Walachia, and Transylvania. Aurelian gave to the Daci also a territory on the south of the Danube, between the two Mœsias. These extended southwards to Mount Hæmus and Romania, which comprised the Thracian provinces of Europa, Hæmi Mons, and the coast of the Propontis to the Isle of Samothrace. The Bulgarians, who were Asiatic Scythians, took up the Sclavonian language in Sarmatia. The Servii were part of the Bulgarians who inhabited the country from the Saave to Nissa, on the confines of Bulgaria. This name was given them because, soon after their first settlement, they became subject to the Greek emperors. Bulgary was only conquered by the Emperor Basil in 1017, and again recovered its liberty. Amurath I. and Bajazet subjected it to the Turkish empire. Nicopolis, near the Danube, was its ancient capital; Sophia now enjoys that dignity: as of Servia Belgrade, i. e. in the Sclavonian language Bel Castle. Before the Romans distinguished Dacia and Mœsia, these countries about the Danube were called European Scythia, having been inhabited from Great Scythia in Asia, which Justin originally confined to the country between the Caspian and Euxine seas; from the Riphæan mountains to the river Halys, though the name was soon after extended to all great Tartary. Among these Scythians the Getæ inhabited the north bank of the Danube, near the Euxine sea, now Bessarabia.
  The Sclavonian tongue is used in the liturgy by the churches of Dalmatia and Illyricum, who follow the Latin rite; and by those of the Russians, Muscovites, and Bulgarians, who follow the Greek rite. And by this the Russian and Sclavonian rites are distinguished. The use of the Sclavonian language in the liturgy and office of the church is approved in the Synod of Zamosci, in 1720, under Clement XI., confirmed by Innocent XIII. and by Benedict XIV. Inter Plures. Const. 98, datâ an. 1744, in his Bullary, (t. 1, p. 376.) The second use of that tongue both in those Sclavonian churches which follow the Greek, and in those which follow the Latin rite was approved by John VIII., Urban VIII., Innocent X., and by Benedict XIV. (Const. 66, Et si dubitare non possumus, an. 1742, in his Bullar. t. 1, p. 217.) Whence in Moravia, Dalmatia, and Illyricum, in some places mass and the divine offices are celebrated in the Sclavonian tongue; in others in Latin, but in several of these, after the gospel has been read in Latin, it is again read to the people in a Sclavonian translation. (See Jos. Assemani, Præf. in t. 4, comm. in Kalendaria Univ. t. 4, par. 2, c. 4, p. 4416.) Pope Benedict XIV. confirms this approbation of the Sclavonian liturgy. (Const. Ex pastoraii munere, anno 1754.) As he had before confirmed the use of the Greek tongue in the liturgy and divine offices to the Italian Greeks, and Greek Melchites. Const. 57. Et si Pastoralis, and Const. 87. Demandatum cœlitus, in his Bullary, (t. 1, pp. 167, 290.) A synod held at Spalatro, under John, the archbishop of Salona (which see was soon after translated to Spalatro) and Maynard, the pope’s legate, about the year 1070, forbade the use of the Sclavonian tongue in the divine office, which decree was confirmed by Alexander II.; but this must be restrained to the churches lying towards Poland and Moravia, or it was never carried into execution. Even in the diocess of Spalatro itself ten chapters and collegiate churches, besides thirty parishes, celebrate mass and the divine office in the Sclavonian tongue, as we are assured by Orbinus, (n. 32,) quoted by Caraman, the learned archbishop of Jadra, (Diss. De Linguâ Sclavicâ literali in divinis celebrandis, n. 32.) The same is testified by Robert Sala, (Observationes ad Card. Bona Rer. Liturg. l. 1, c. 9, § 4, p. 152,) who adds, that in the aforesaid diocess only eight parishes use the Latin tongue in the church. Pope Gregory VII. forbade the use of the Sclavonian tongue in the mass, but to the Bohemians, (l. 7, ep. 2, ad Uratislaum Bohemiæ Ducem.) The grant of John VIII. for the sacred use of this tongue was obtained by St. Methodius after the death of his brother Cyril, and was never extended to Poland and Bohemia. Whence it was prohibited when some began to introduce it there, probably Moravian priests, whose kingdom was extinguished by the Turks, that is, Hungarians, in the tenth age, as Constantine Porphyrogenetta relates.
  Cardinal Bona, among other mistakes on this head, calls this Sclavonian the Illyrican tongue. (Liturg. l. 1, c. 9, § 4.) Whereas this name can only be given to the modern dialect of the Sclavonian now in use in that country. The Sclavonian which is allowed in the liturgy, is the ancient Sclavonian, mother of the modern dialects, and called the Sclavonian language of the schools or of the learned. “Idiomate, quod nunc Sclavum literale appellant,” says Benedict XIV., which Urban VIII. and Innocent X., &c., also express. Caraman, afterwards archbishop of Jadra, revised the Breviary and Missal of this rite, printed at Rome in 1741, according to the rules of the ancient Sclavonian tongue, of which a dictionary is extant for the use of their clergy, called Azbuquidarium, that is, Abecedarium. There is also a grammar of the same, composed by Smotriski, a Russian Basilian monk, printed at Vilna in 1619, and at Moscow in 1721, &c. How much the ancient Sclavonian, or that of the Litterati, differs from all the modern dialects derived from it, appears from specimens of them exhibited from the different translations of the Bible given by Le Long, (Bibl. Sacra, t. 1, art. 6, sect. i.–v. p. 435, &c.) and of the Lord’s Prayer given in the thirteen dialects of the Sclavonian tongue, (ibid.) and in Reland, (ad calcem partis iii. diss. Miscell.)
  The learned Car. Stanislas Hosius, bishop of Warmia in Poland, (Dial. De Sacro Vernacule Legendo,) observes, that though the Bohemians, Moravians, Poles, Muscovites, Russians, Bosnians, Servians, Croatians, Bulgarians, and some other nations use the Sclavonian tongue, (which is extended through one quarter of Europe,) yet these dialects differ so much, that a Pole understands no more of the language of a Dalmatian than a High German, or a native of Switzerland, understands the Low Dutch. This author thinks the Sclavonian the most extensive of all languages; but the Arabic reaches much further, being used not only by the Christians who inhabit Arabia, Syria, and Egypt, but also by the Mahometans in Asia, Africa, and a considerable part of Europe. The church, to prevent the frequent changes to which modern languages are subject, allows in her office only the Chaldaic or modern Hebrew, which is the ancient sacred language; the Greek, the language of the philosophers and all the Oriental schools; Latin, the language of the learned in the West; and the Sclavonian. Herbinius (de Religiosis Kioviensibus Chryptis) contends that it is a primitive language, being the mother of the Russian, Muscovite, Polish, Vandalic, Bohemian, Croatian, Dalmatian, Valachian, and Bulgarian. It is esteemed that it holds a middle place between the Hebrew and other Oriental languages, and those used in the West; and it suits all climates. Some add, that it seems most adapted of all others, to be made an universal language. Some have attributed the Sclavonian alphabet and translation of the Bible to St. Jerom, but erroneously. For the Latin was in his time the language of that country; and this St. Jerom calls his translation into his own tongue, as Banduri (Animadv. in Constant. Porphyrog. de administ. imper. p. 117,) takes notice. The Sclavonian letters have no affinity with the Gothic; but were invented by SS. Cyril and Methodius, who derived them from the large Greek alphabet. The Sclavonians have another alphabet of smaller characters for common use, particularly in esteem in Dalmatia, Carniola, and Istria; also a third alphabet almost wholly different, which they seem to have borrowed from the Croatians and Servians. This last is falsely ascribed to St. Jerom. (See Cohlij Introductio in Historiam Sclavorum; Jos. Assemani, l. 4.) Of all the Sclavonian dialects the Polish has been most cultivated. The Lithuanians are of a very different extraction, as their language, which is a dialect of the Sarmatian, demonstrates.
  N. B.—The particle ski, ending Polish names, signifies of, and corresponds to the French De, the German Von, the Dutch Van. Hence count Jablonski, is count of Jablon; Stredowski, of Stredow: and to add of or de, as is done by some, is a solecism. [back]
Note 19. See Hansiz. German. Sacra, t. 2, p. 15; also Historia Conversionis Baivariorum et Carantanorum Sclavorum, published by Canisius, t. 2, et Du Chesne, Script. Franc. t. 2. See likewise the lives of St. Rupert, and the first archbishops of Saltzburg, published by Canisius, in his Lectiones Antiquæ. [back]
Note 20. John VIII. ep. 268, ad Meth. archiep. [back]
 
 
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