Clement of Ohrid

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This article is about the medieval Slavic saint. For other uses, see Clement (disambiguation).
Свети Климент Охридски
Saint Clement of Ohrid
Saint Clement of Ohrid (icon, 13th-14th century).jpg
Icon of Saint Clement of Ohrid
One of the Seven Apostles of Bulgaria, Disciple of St. Cyril and St. Methodius
Born c. 830-840
Byzantine Empire, Bulgarian Empire or Great Moravia[1][2][3]
Died July 27, 916(916-07-27) (date of burial)
Ohrid, Bulgarian Empire[4] (present-day Republic of Macedonia)
Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church, Byzantine Catholic Church
Feast July 27 (Gregorian calendar), August 9 (Julian calendar) and November 25 (Gregorian calendar), December 8 (Julian calendar)
Attributes Glagolitic alphabet, Cyrillic script
Patronage Ohrid, Bulgarian Empire at his life
(present-day Republic of Macedonia)[5]

Saint Clement of Ohrid (Bulgarian, Macedonian: Свети Климент Охридски, [sveˈti ˈkliment ˈoxridski], Greek: Άγιος Κλήμης της Αχρίδας, Slovak: svätý Kliment Ochridský / Sloviensky) (ca. 840 – 916) was a medieval Bulgarian saint, scholar, writer and enlightener of the Slavs.[6][7][8][9][10] He was one of the most prominent disciples of Saints Cyril and Methodius and is often associated with the creation of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic scripts, especially their popularisation among Christianised Slavs. He was the founder of the Ohrid Literary School and is regarded as a patron of education and language by some Slavic people. He is regarded to be the first bishop of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church,[11][12] one of the seven Apostles of the Bulgarian Empire (Bulgaria), the patron saint of the Republic of Macedonia, the city of Ohrid[5] and the Macedonian Orthodox Church.[13][14]


According to his hagiography by Theophylact of Ohrid, Clement knew the life of Methodius like no other. That is why most scholars think he was born in Byzantine empire in the territory where Methodius served during his political career, i.e. that he was a Slav from Southern Macedonia.[15] According to others, the area of Southern Macedonia, where he was born, was then part of Bulgaria.[16] The Short Life of St. Clement by Theophylact of Ohrid testimonies his Slavic origin, calling him the first bishop, who used to preach in Bulgarian language,[17] while "The Ohrid Legend" written by Demetrios Chomatenos calls him a Bulgarian, who was born somewhere in Macedonia.[18] Because of that some scholars label him as Bulgarian Slav.[19][20][21]

A fringe view on his origin is saying Clement was born in Great Moravia. This view is based on the lexicographical analysis of Clement's works.[3]


Southeastern Europe in the late 9th century.

The exact date of his birth is unknown. Most probably he joined Methodius as a young man following him later to the monastery on Olympus.

Clement participated in the mission of Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia. After the death of Cyril, Clement accompanied Methodius on his journey from Rome to Pannonia and Great Moravia. After the death of Methodius himself in 885, Clement headed the struggle against the German clergy in Great Moravia along with Gorazd. After spending some time in jail, he was expelled from Great Moravia and in 885 or 886 reached the borders of Bulgaria together with Naum of Preslav, Angelarius and possibly Gorazd (according to other sources, Gorazd was already dead by that time). Thereafter, the four of them were sent to the Bulgarian capital of Pliska where they were commissioned by Boris I of Bulgaria to instruct the future clergy of the state in the Slavonic language.

After the adoption of Christianity in 865, religious ceremonies in Bulgaria were conducted in Greek by clergy sent from the Byzantine Empire. Fearing growing Byzantine influence and weakening of the state, Boris viewed the adoption of the Old Slavonic language as a way to preserve the political independence and stability of Bulgaria. With a view thereto, Boris made arrangements for the establishment of two literary academies where theology was to be taught in the Slavonic language. The first of the schools was to be founded in the capital, Pliska, and the second in the region of Kutmichevitsa.

According to his hagiography by Theophylact of Ohrid, while Naum stayed in Pliska working on the foundation of the Pliska Literary School, Clement was commissioned by Boris I to organise the teaching of theology to future clergymen in Old Church Slavonic in the southwestern part of the Bulgarian Empire, in the region then known as Kutmichevitsa.[22] For a period of seven years (between 886 and 893) Clement taught some 3,500 disciples in the Slavonic language and the Glagolitic alphabet. In 893 he was ordained archbishop of Drembica (Velika), also in Kutmichevica. Upon his death in 916 he was buried in his monastery, Saint Panteleimon, in Ohrid.


Tomb of Saint Clement at Saint Panteleimon Church, Ohrid

Saint Clement of Ohrid was one of the most prolific and important writers in Old Church Slavonic. He is credited with the Panonic Hagiography of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius. Clement also translated the Flower Triode containing church songs sung from Easter to Pentecost and is believed to be the author of the Holy Service and the Life of St. Clement of Rome, as well as of the oldest service dedicated to St. Cyril and St. Methodius. The invention of the Cyrillic alphabet is also usually ascribed to him although the alphabet is most likely to have been developed at the Preslav Literary School at the beginning of the 10th century (see Cyrillic script).

The first modern Bulgarian university, Sofia University, was named after Clement upon its foundation in 1888. The Macedonian National and University Library, founded on November 23, 1944, also bears his name.[23] The University in Bitola (Republic of Macedonia), established in 1979, is named after Clement, as well as the Bulgarian scientific base, St. Kliment Ohridski on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.

In November 2008, the Macedonian Orthodox Church donated part of Clement's relics to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as a sign of good will.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russian Church Singing, vol. II, Johann von Gardner, Vladimir Morosan, St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1980, ISBN 0881410462, p. 11.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia "Bulgaria", vol. 2, BAN edition, Sofia 1981, p. 261
  3. ^ a b Andrej ŠKOVIERA: Svätí slovanskí sedmopočetníci. Bratislava: Slovenský komitét slavistov - Slavistický ústav Jána Stanislava SAV, 2010, ISBN 978-80-89489-02-2, pp. 110-113. Ján STANISLAV: Starosloviensky jazyk I. Bratislava: Slovenské pedagogické nakladateľstvo, 1978, pp. 20-21; 174, 219-230.
  4. ^ Karl Cordell, Stefan Wolff, Ethnic Conflict: Causes, Consequences, and Responses, (Polity Press, 2009), 64.
  5. ^ a b "Patron Saints Index: Saint Clement of Ohrid". Retrieved 2008-06-12. 
  6. ^ Who are the Macedonians? Hugh Poulton, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1850655340, p. 19.
  7. ^ Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Gerald H. Anderson, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999, ISBN 0802846807, p. 138.
  8. ^ A Concise History of Bulgaria, R. J. Crampton, Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN 0521616379, p. 15.
  9. ^ Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900-1204, Paul Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0521770173, pp. 78-79.
  10. ^ The A to Z of the Orthodox Church, Michael Prokurat, Alexander Golitzin, Michael D. Peterson, Rowman & Littlefield, 2010, ISBN 0810876027, p. 91.
  11. ^ "...the First Bishop of the Bulgarian language" - Teophylactus cited in Ramet, Pedro. Religion and Nationalism in Soviet and East European Politics. p. 373. ISBN 0-8223-0891-6. 
  12. ^ Bakalov, Georgi; Kumanov, Milen (2003). "KUTMICHEVITSA (Kutmichinitsa)". History of Bulgaria electronic edition (in Bulgarian). Sofia: Trud, Sirma. ISBN 954528613X. 
  13. ^ Official site of the Macedonian orthodox church
  14. ^ Macedonia Travel info
  15. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Fifth Edition Revised, David Farmer, OUP Oxford, 2011, ISBN 0191036730, p. 394.
  16. ^ Butler's Lives of the Saints, vol. 7, Alban Butler, Paul Burns, David Hugh Farmer, A&C Black, 1995, ISBN 0860122565, p. 220.
  17. ^ The Voices of Medieval Bulgaria, Seventh-Fifteenth Century, East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450-1450, Kiril Petkov, BRILL, 2008, ISBN 9047433750, p. 153.
  18. ^ "This great father of ours and light of Bulgaria was by origin of the European Moesians whom the people commonly know as Bulgarians…". Documents and materials on the history of the Bulgarian people. Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Dimitŭr Kosev, Khristo Khristov, 1969, p. 54.
  19. ^ The Byzantine Inheritance of Eastern Europe, vol. 156 from Collected studies, ISSN 0961-7582, Dimitri Obolensky, Variorum Reprints, 1969, ISBN 086078102X, p. III
  20. ^ Historical Dictionary of Croatia, Robert Stallaerts, Scarecrow Press, 2009, ISBN 081087363X, p. 87.
  21. ^ Greek in a Cold Climate G - Reference, Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Rowman & Littlefield, 1991, ISBN 0389209678, p. 123.
  22. ^ The entry of the Slavs into Christendom: an introduction to the medieval history of the Slavs, A. P. Vlasto, CUP Archive, 1970, ISBN 0-521-07459-2, p. 169.
  23. ^ The official site of the National and University Library "St. Kliment Ohridski", retrieved on October 9, 2007.
  24. ^

External links[edit]