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  • It would be difficult to find any writing about the Rusyn people which did not mention their great spirituality and the role that faith played in their daily lives. From the first greeting of the day, "The glory of Jesus Christ be to you" and its response, "Glory forever," this faith was present in every activity and custom. The alternating fasts and feasts of the church were strictly observed and intertwined with agrarian cycles of planting and harvesting.

    The traditional legend states that that Christianity came to the Carpatho-Rus homeland in 863 with the visit of Cyril and Methodius. As in many other areas of the world, Christianity replaced a pagan belief in the forces of nature. Since the peasants' greatest fear was of storms which could cause the loss of the crops which fed them through the long, hard winters, it is not surprising that a storm-god Perun was the chief deity.

    This Christianity which came to the Carpathians followed Eastern rites with the liturgy in Old Church Slavonic. The church followed the Julian calendar-rather then the Gregorian-and permitted the marriage of clergy.

    Byzantine Rite Christianity continued for over six centuries until the 1596 Union of Brest, later reinforced by the 1646 Union of Uzhgorod, changed the church primacy to Rome rather than Constantinople. These "unions" did not affect the peasants' religious observation in any way as they continued with the Byzantine rite, with married priests and the Julian calendar.

    For more than two centuries, the Lemkovyna region's Eastern rite religion was under Rome. The churches were first called Uniate-and then Greek Catholic, with the word "Greek" indicating "Eastern" or Byzantine.



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