Saturday, 19 April 2014

Czechs mark St Cyril and Methodius anniversary

8 July 2013

Velehrad, South Moravia, July 5 (CTK) - Almost 80,000 pilgrims, including President Milos Zeman, visited the Days of Good Will People celebrations of the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius missionaries in Great Moravia Friday, festival secretary Josef Korenek has said.

Some 60,000 people attended the pilgrims' mass Friday, Korenek added.

The police estimates are up to 20,000 lower, police spokeswoman Jana Macalikova said.

Despite it, Friday's attendance was record high compared to the past years, she added.

"Our expectations have been fulfilled. Even more people than we expected arrived in Velehrad so we had to open a reserve parking lot. However, we managed the outflow of pilgrims well in cooperation with the police. No problems were reported," Korenek told CTK.

Some 18,000 people came to watch the programme of the Days of Good Will People on Thursday, which culminated with a charity concert.

The police confirm that the festival was calm and no incidents occurred.

No crimes and misdemeanours were reported at the site, Macalikova told CTK.

The Days of Good Will People are held in Velehrad annually to commemorate the missionaries who brought Christianity to the Great Moravia early medieval empire, including the Czech lands and Slovakia.

This year's celebrations marking their arrival's 1150th anniversary were attended by a number of significant guests, such as papal legate and Zagreb Archbishop Josip Bozanic. He celebrated the whole mass in the Czech language for which believers applauded him.

Supreme politicians, including President Zeman, prime minister-designate Jiri Rusnok and outgoing Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, appeared at the festival.

Apart from Czech pilgrims, people from the neighbouring Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Austria came to Velehrad. A total of 40 buses with pilgrims arrived from Slovenia.

Bishops from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia along with 11 foreign bishops, among others from Germany, Russia and Ukraine, took part in the event.

Saint Cyril or Constantine (827-869) and Saint Methodius (825-885), "the apostles of the Slavs," were two Greek brothers from Thessalonica. Invited by Great Moravia's Duke Rostislav (846-870), they came to the central European kingdom of Great Moravia in 863.

As missionaries they spread Christianity, but they also translated biblical and liturgical text into the comprehensible, old Slavonic language. They invented a scripture for this purpose, called Glagolitic, that was later transformed into Cyrillic that it is still in use in the Orthodox church.

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