In a dramatic struggle to promote Christianity in the Slavic lands, these brothers not only face the pagan religion which is still deeply rooted in society (pagan gods and demons, fortune-telling, and witchcraft), but they also find themselves in a fight for introducing the Slavonic liturgy, which is considered so untraditional that it incites resentment among the Latin priests and strong resistance from the mighty East Frankish Kingdom.
In stunning scenes, this story from the 9th century depicts the beginnings of the spread of Christianity in Great Moravia and in Eastern European lands. The main characters of this film are missionaries Constantine (later known as Cyril) and his brother Methodius, who were proclaimed saints and are often referred to as the apostles of the Slavs. The plot of this film follows an important part of Christian history between the years 826 and 885.
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Parental Discretion Advised — In Part 2 of the video below, there are 5 seconds which include brief nudity, beginning at 20:14 in the video. An evil warlord is shown lying in bed, with a couple women beside him. The scene was probably intended to show how godless of a man he is. Still, the scene is not appropriate, and parents may wish to fast forward past this brief scene.
Cyril & Methodius - Apostles to the Slavs - Part 1
Cyril & Methodius - Apostles to the Slavs - Part 2
SYNOPSIS (contains spoilers)
At the beginning, we learn about the most dramatic moments of the childhood and adolescence of the two brothers from Thessalonica, their life in Constantinople as well as their first missionary journeys to Arabia and to the Khazars where, among other things, they recovered from the sea the remains of the martyr and the third Pope Clement I.
We also follow Constantine’s involvement in the struggle over iconoclasm which at that time swept the entire Byzantine Empire, as well as Methodius’ curious fates at the time when he was the governor at the hot soil of the Strymon region which was plagued by frequent riots.
Following the request of Moravian Prince Rastislav that Christian teachers be sent to the territory of Great Moravia, we follow an incredible story of how the Old Slavonic script was created (Glagolitic script) and how the first translations of the most important books were completed. After depicting the challenging journey of Constantine and Methodius from Constantinople to Great Moravia, the main plot begins to unfold – the dramatic struggle to promote Christianity in the Slavic lands (particularly Moravia).
During their missionary efforts, the brothers not only face the pagan religion which is still very deeply rooted in society (pagan gods and demons, common law, fortune-telling, and witchcraft), but they also find themselves amidst the fight for the introduction of the Slavic liturgy, which is considered so untraditional that it incites resentment among the Latin priests and strong resistance from the mighty East Frankish Kingdom.
Constantine and Methodius start their own school, introducing Slavic literature and spreading Christian teachings. At the same time, however, they negotiate with the monarchs of the time, the Emperor as well as the Pope in Rome. Apart from spreading Christianity and building the independent Great Moravian Church, they are also successful in laying the foundations of the legal state.
The hard struggle over the existence of the Moravian Church continues also outside the territory of Moravia. Constantine and Methodius want to ordain their disciples as priests, but they are first required to defend their work at the hostile synod in Venice and later also in Rome in front of the Pope where they surprisingly manage to slowly enforce the Slavic script and liturgy and to establish an independent Moravian diocese.
However, Constantine, who is now seriously ill, having suffered from tuberculosis since early childhood, dies in Rome. After his death, his brother Methodius takes the lead in the mission and after great efforts he is appointed as the first Moravian Archbishop.
In the meantime, strong unrest bursts out in Great Moravia during which the Moravian Prince is betrayed by his nephew Svatopluk – thus, Rastislav slowly falls into the hands of the East Frankish Emperor who deprives Rastislav of his sight and later attempts to seize Moravia. However, instead of gaining gratitude, Svatopluk is imprisoned and the Frankish Margraves Wilhelm and Engelschalk are entrusted with the governance over Moravia.
However, people in Great Moravia do not accept the foreign Margraves, and they stir up a strong rebellion which can only be suppressed by one person – Svatopluk. For this reason, the Emperor releases Svatopluk from prison and makes him the leader of his army. But soon afterwards, Svatopluk sides with the Moravians and together they defeat the Frankish soldiers in a merciless fight.
In the meantime, the Franks captured Archbishop Methodius and condemned him years of imprisonment, leaving him in a dungeon. After nearly three years of inhumane suffering, the Bavarian bishops are required, following the Pope’s intervention, to release Methodius. So the Archbishop finally returns to Great Moravia to complete his mission there.
Svatopluk becomes the Prince of Great Moravia, and as an excellent warrior and a ruler of extraordinary skills, he extensively expands the territory of Great Moravia. Thanks to his capabilities and excellent organization skills, Methodius translates the remaining part of the Bible – the entire Old Testament – into the Slavonic language. But he still faces constant prejudice from the Latin priests, especially priest Wiching, who manages to ascend the Episcopal throne in Nitra, an important part of the Moravian Empire at that time.
After many intrigues and denouncements, Methodius finally loses the support of Rome, where the new Pope Stephen V had taken power. Shortly before his death, Methodius nominates Gorazd, one of his most faithful disciples, as his successor. But due to false accusations, his enemies succeed in destroying the life-work of both brothers – after Methodius’ death, many rare books are destroyed and all Slavic disciples are expelled from Great Moravia with no chance of return.
Yet the work of both brothers has survived centuries, greatly affecting the course of history not only in the West (in a large part of Europe), but also in the East (Byzantium, Russia, Eastern Christianity).