St. Cyril

St. Cyril


  “The Holy Brothers of Thessalonica highlight first the contribution of ancient Greek culture and, subsequently, the significance of the influence of the Church of Constantinople and of Eastern tradition, which has so deeply marked the spirituality and culture of so many peoples and nations in the Eastern part of the European Continent.”  

Blessed John Paul II, Egregiae virtutis (31 December 1980)



             Selected by the Byzantine Emperor Michael III in 863 for a ‘cultural and religious mission’ requested by the King of Moravia, these two brothers from Thessalonia began to teach and preach in the Slav language.

St Cyril, a brilliant linguist, devised an alphabet, thus becoming the founder of the Slavonic literature. He also adopted Slavonic for the celebration of the liturgy, and circulated a Slavonic translation of the Scriptures.

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

During the French revolution the relics of St Cyril were placed in safekeeping and eventually were lost. In the 1960s the Irish Dominican Fathers discovered a small fragment of the relics. Pope Paul VI personally placed this fragment in the Basilica di San Clemente in the hope ‘that the sacred relics of St Cyril might be a cause of union with the See of Rome.’