Memorial plaque to Saints Cyril and Methodius installed in the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore on behalf of the Ukrainian people
This is reported by the UGCC Information Department.
The event began with a prayer service to the Most Holy Theotokos in the main chapel of the Basilica, where the miraculous icon Salus Populi Romani ("Salvation of the Roman People") is kept.
Before the service began, the audience was greeted by Cardinal Rylko, who noted in his speech "the historical significance of the event of the installation of a memorial plaque in honor of Saints Cyril and Methodius in the oldest Basilica in the Western world, where back in 868 Pope Andrian II blessed the liturgical books in the Slavic language."
In his speech, Patriarch Sviatoslav pointed out two symbolic gestures that the Holy Apostles of the Slavic peoples made in 868.
"It was these gestures that gave rise to the existence of an entire Christian civilization. The first gesture is to find the relics of Saint Pope Clement, who gave his life for Christ in the territory of modern Crimea. They brought these relics home, bringing them to Rome as the fruit of their missionary work. The second gesture is the translation into Church Slavonic of the liturgical books that these two brothers prepared for their mission, and Pope Andrian II tested and blessed in this basilica."
Modern historians, according to His Beatitude Sviatoslav, interpret these two gestures as "a sign of a special connection between the Churches of the West and the East.
"These were gestures of communion through the incorporation of God's word into the language of our people, which we still preserve."
"Today, remembering this important historical event with gratitude, we also intend to make two gestures: first, we would like to present a copy of the Salus Populi Romani icon for the Basilica and leave it here, just as Saints Cyril and Methodius did when they brought the relics of St. Clement and liturgical books here. We know that Pope Francis comes here to pray before each of his apostolic journeys. We in Ukraine are waiting for the Holy Father and believe that before he comes to us, he will come here to bring the suffering and hope of our people to the feet of the Mother of God."
The second gesture is a blessing of the memorial plaque in Ukrainian to the creators of Slavic writing.
"Their mission has extremely extensive spiritual fruits of the faith of our people, which even the persecution of communist terror could not destroy."
His Beatitude Sviatoslav also pointed out the dramatic situation in Ukraine, Belarus and Poland, "where even the face of an emigrant is used to provoke aggression and hatred."
"That is why,"the head of the UGCC stressed," we must resort to the Mother of God in our prayers for healing the wounds of the past and present."
After the prayer service, His Beatitude Sviatoslav and Cardinal Rylko consecrated a copy of the icon, so Bishop Irenaeus Bilyk, canon of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, addressed the guests with a word of greeting. The Bishop thanked Cardinal Rylko for supporting the initiative and His Beatitude Sviatoslav for helping to implement it. Bishop Ireney also expressed gratitude to the donors, and Cardinal Rylko presented them with commemorative awards.
The second part of the event was held in the Chezi Chapel, where memorial plaques to Saints Cyril and Methodius were installed. After the prayer of consecration of the memorial plaque, students of the Ukrainian Pontifical College of St. Josaphat sang the prayerful greatness of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
The event was attended by Ambassador of Ukraine to Italy Yaroslav Melnyk, charge d'affaires of Ukraine to the Holy See Serhiy Kozachevsky, Ambassador of Bulgaria to the Holy See Bohdan Patashev, charge d'affaires of Slovakia to the Holy See Edita Filadelfiova, canons of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, representatives of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the clergy of the UGCC in Italy and the Ukrainian public.
The event was initiated by Bishop Ireney Bilyk, canon of the Pontifical Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Bishop Emeritus of the UGCC.