Christians from all over Slovakia came to Nitra on July 5, the Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius and a national holiday in Slovakia, to pray at sites visited by the two saints more than 1,100 years ago, the TASR newswire reported.
The faithful came to attend the National Cyril-Methodius Pilgrimage on John Paul II Square and a related ceremonial Holy Mass in St. Emeram Cathedral, with Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič among those present.
“Croatia's metropolitan archbishop Marin Srakic was the main celebrant of the Mass. An invitation from bishop of Nitra Viliam Judák was also accepted by the Apostolic nuncio in Slovakia, Mario Giordana, and several Slovak bishops,” Nitra town council spokesman, Andrej Jančovič, told TASR, adding that the celebrations also featured a Guard of Honour made up of Slovak military personnel wearing historical uniforms.
Cyril-Methodius Days began in Nitra on Friday under the auspices of Prime Minister Robert Fico and the mayor of Nitra, Jozef Dvonč, and featured a colourful programme that includes presentations of traditional crafts and displays of falconry, fencing and old music.
Saints Cyril and Methodius, also called the Apostles to the Slavs, came to Great Moravia in 863. They devised the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe the Old Slavonic language. They helped Slovak ancestors through the first great crisis when Great Moravia was facing pressure from the Frankish Empire, Parliamentary Chairman Pavol Paška said in his speech at celebrations marking the feast of the two saints at Devin Castle near Bratislava on July 5.
Paška called for national unity during the current economic crisis which, he said, could last several years. At Devín Castle, Gašparovič singled out Proglas, a poem written by the saints, as their most significant art work that makes Slovaks proud to this day. The head of state observed that in four years from now it will be 1,150 years since the two saints were welcomed to this part of Europe by Prince Rastislav, the ruler of Great Moravia. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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