Cyril and Methodius and their Five Disciples - the Seven Saints

St Cyril and St Methodius    |     Bulgarian alphabet


The Seven Saints 
Icon, 14th century

Today we have evidence of the names of only five of the personal disciples of Cyril and Methodius. These are Clement Ohridski /of Ohrid/, Naoum, Angelarius, Gorazd and Sava. 

Least are the data about SAINT SAVA. His name is mentioned only in the homily of Clement Ohridski, as well as in Tzar Boril’s Synodic of 1216, where Saint Sava is placed next to the other four disciples of the Salonika brothers. 

Supposedly, SAINT GORAZD was born in a rich aristocratic family in the lands of present-day Slovakia. In 885 Archbishop Methodius, on his death bed, named him as his successor. Since he belonged to the local feudal elite, Gorazd might have not been driven away by the German ecclesiastics. It is even possible that for a certain period of time he was archbishop. There exist some data, however, in evidence of Gorazd’s activity in the neighbourhood of Krakow, Poland, where his name is included in a 14th century church calendar (under the date of 17 July). It is interesting that in Slovakia today he is celebrated on the same day. What is more: the Slovaks consider Gorazd to be their first saint. 

 

The persecutions and inquisitions they suffered from the German clergy, made the other three saints flee to Bulgaria, of which they “dreamt, thought and hoped to find peace in”. The Bulgarian governor of Belgrade (the capital of Serbia today) hurried to send them away to his sovereign Prince Boris I, who, on his part, “yearned for such men”. It is known of Clement, Naoum, and Angelarius that they joined the apostles from Salonika a long time before their mission to Greater Moravia started in 863, so that they were directly committed to the translation of liturgical books into Old Bulgarian. The first two of these are known to be Bulgarians, the third may be considered Bulgarian to a high degree of certainty. 

It was not SAINT ANGELARIUS' fate to engage in large-scale activities in the court of Prince Boris. Ruined by the persecutions in Greater Moravia, he died very soon in 886.

SAINT CLEMENT(about 838-916) was the eldest disciple of Cyril and Methodius. According to his hagiology, he had worked together with them on the translation of the Bible and other liturgical texts. Not long after his return to Bulgaria, in 886-887 Prince Boris sent him in the Ohrid district, Macedonia. Here he baptized children, wrote lectures and sermons, taught the native people to cultivate their gardens, cured the sick, built churches and monasteries, for a period of seven years educated 3500 children in reading and writing.

In 893 he was consecrated bishop of the same district. He is author of 63 edifying and 26 laudatory homilies, of numerous hymnological works, services, etc. As put by his Greek hagiographer, archbishop Theophilactus, St. Clement of Ohrid “devised other representations of the letters, clearer that those devised by the wisest Cyril”. This particular statement has provided an argument for many scholars to consider St. Clement to be the genuine author of the “clearer” Cyrillic script, while the Glagolitic alphabet was ascribed to his teacher Constantine-Cyril, the Philosopher.

The place that remained vacant after Clement, was taken by SAINT NAOUM . Until then he had spent about seven years in the capital city of Preslav, where he fulfilled his mission similar to that of Clement in Macedonia. Naoum’s name is linked with the flourishing of a great literary school in the Bulgarian capital. In Macedonia he lived until his death in 910 at an advanced age. Saint Clement outlived him by six years. The relics of the illustrious bishop have been preserved in a monastery in the town of Ber, Greece.

The memory of the apostolic activity of St. Clement and St. Naoum is still alive in the surroundings of Ohrid. Churches, monasteries and other material remains, as well as tales and legends, are the immediate evidence of their righteous and noble deeds. Even nowadays the names of Clement and Naoum are favourite Christian names among the native population.

In fact, for more than 1100 years now Bulgarian people of all generations have venerated the work of Clement, Naoum, Angelarius, Gorazd and Sava. Each one of them has a holiday celebrated by the Bulgarian Church tradition. Moreover, these five men, together with the two brothers from Salonika, are honoured each year on 27 July, and their festival is called the day of the Seven Saints /Sveti Sedmochislenitzi/. In the Church of the same name, part of St. Clement’s hand has been kept as an invaluable relic.