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This issue of postage stamp commemorates the 1150th anniversary of the recognition of the Slavic liturgical language and the events preceding it. After forty months of missionary work in Great Moravia, Saints Cyril and Methodius set off on a journey across Pannonia to Venice, which was a part of the Byzantine Empire, and Constantinople with disciples who they sought to have ordained by a bishop, since they were not bishops themselves yet. In Venice, they were invited to Rome by Pope Nicolas I who then died soon after. His successor, Pope Adrian II received the brothers in a warm and dignified manner as they were carrying relics of the martyred Saint Clement. Pope Adrian blessed the books translated by Cyril and Methodius and had their disciples ordained.
The depiction of these historic events on this sheet is based on mosaics preserved in the triumphal arc of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome and also from an important artefact of Slavic literature, the Codex Zographensis, which is named after the Zograf monastery on Mount Athos where it was found. This jewel of Slavic literature was written in the 10th century and is an Old Slavonic form of the four Gospels. The text on the stamp is a transcript of the first four verses of the first Chapter of the Gospel of Mark: Začenlo evangelie Isusa Christova syna Božie. / Jakože jest psano v prorocěch se az posľon angel moj prěd licem mojim iže ugotovit ponť tvoj prěd tobojon / Glas vypijonštago v pustyni ugotovajte ponť, gospodin pravy tvorite sťzon jego. / Byst Ioan vrsta v pustyni i propovědajen krštenie pokajaniju v ostpuštenie grěchom. – The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. / As it is written in Isaiah, the prophet: “Behold, I am sending my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,” / “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make the paths straight for him,’” / so John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Old Slavonic thus became the fourth liturgical language, alongside Hebrew, Greek and Latin.
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