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The Myth of Cyril and Methodius and Competing Maps of Europe

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image of Journal of Religion in Europe

For over a millennium, the myth of Saints Cyril and Methodius has played a vital role in European Christianity. In the late twentieth century, both John Paul II and Aleksii II appealed to the saints but, in doing so, projected different 'maps' of the continent. For the pope, who imagined a Christian Europe stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals, the saints were bridge-builders and exemplars of ecumenism. For the patriarch, the Cyrillomethodian heritage identified Russia as an Orthodoxbelieving, Cyrillic-writing nation distinct from the West. Thus, while John Paul used the myth to amalgamate, Aleksii used it to differentiate.


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