Translated from Polish Catholic DEON.pl news item:
A Two-Euro coin design by Miroslav Hric to be released into circulation in May of next year by the National Bank of Slovakia (NSB) in commemoration of the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of the two saints in Moravia was changed.
Currently, there is the image of the two saints, and between them a double cross representing the national emblem of Slovakia. However, the symbol of the cross was removed from the saints’ vestments, and halos were removed from around their head. NSB spokeswoman Petra Pauerova told the Slovak newspaper “Pravda” that “the European Commission, assenting to the ‘request of some Commonwealth countries’ prescribed the removal of these attributes from the original coin design.” Since the coin will be released into circulation in all euro area countries, the project should respect the principle of “religious neutrality,” explained Pauerova.
The removal of those features from the Slovakian coins was announced on Sunday on public television and radio stations in Slovakia.
The Slovakian Bishops’ Conference in a statement did not hesitate to use the word “disgrace”. “The resignation of the key attributes associated conceptually with Saints Cyril and Methodius demonstrates the lack of respect for the Christian tradition of Europe.” indignantly remarked Church spokesman Rev. Jozef Kovaczik. He added the Church only learned that the two symbols would not appear on the Two-Euro coin via the media.
“In 1988, before the Velvet Revolution, the faithful in Slovakia risked their lives, preaching the doctrine of the two saints. Do we really live in a nation of law, or in a totalitarian system, which dictates to us what attributes we may use?” asked Rev. Kovaczik, noting that Slovakia is a Catholic country.
St. Cyril (926-869) and St. Methodius (815-885) were the first missionaries to the Slavs. It was to their mission that the Slavic portions of Europe owe the adoption of the Christian faith and their own roots in the culture of Europe.
These saints in both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are called the Apostles of the Slavs, and came from Byzantium to the Moravian state in 862 A.D. at the request of the local ruler Rostislav. They knew both the language and customs of the Slavs, having dealt previously with Christianized Southern Slavs living in the area around the Byzantine Thessalonica. Both had already made a translation of the Bible into Slavonic, having for purposes of translation created a special 40-letter alphabet, the Glagolitic script.
Cyril and Methodius’ students continued their mission to the Eastern and Southern Slavs. The complicated Glagolitic script ultimately replaced in liturgical writings by the simpler Cyrillic alphabet, modeled upon the Greek alphabet.
Pope John Paul II gave Sts. Cyril and Methodius the title of patron saints of Europe.
In church iconography the saints are depicted dressed in pontifical garb as Greek or Latin bishops. Their attributes are a cross, a book and an unrolled scroll displaying the Slavic alphabet.
The NBS web-site. announcing the winning design, says blandly:
The original competition design was modified in line with recommendations made within the notification and approval procedure conducted pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 975/98 on denominations and technical specifications of euro coins intended for circulation, as amended.