The Tomb and Relics of Saint Cyril the Apostle to the Slavs

Originally appeared at: Mystagogy Resource Center

A chapel on the right side of the nave of the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome is dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodios. In this chapel rests the only surviving relics of Saint Cyril. The original tomb of the Saint is also in the basilica, with offerings there dedicated by all the Slavic nations, as well as other nations of the world.

At the request of the King of Moravia, the Roman Emperor Michael III in 863 sent the two brothers Cyril and Methodios from Thessaloniki to teach and preach Orthodox Christianity.

Saint Cyril, a brilliant linguist, devised an alphabet, thus becoming the founder of the Slavonic language. He also adopted Slavonic for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, and circulated a Slavonic translation of the Holy Scriptures.

According to Saint Cyril’s own report, in 861 he recovered the body of Saint Clement in the Crimea, together with the anchor he was attached to. Invited to Rome in 867 by the Pope, Saints Cyril and Methodios took these remains with them, arriving in 868. The body of Saint Clement was solemnly escorted to and interred in the Basilica of San Clemente. A year later on 14 February Saint Cyril died in Rome. Saint Methodios asked for permission to take the body back to Greece. When the Pope and people of Rome would not allow this, Saint Methodios requested that the burial be in San Clemente itself.

During the French Revolution the relics of Saint Cyril were placed in safekeeping and eventually were lost. In the 1960s the Irish Dominican Fathers discovered a small fragment of the relics. This fragment was then placed in the Basilica of San Clemente.

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