You are currently viewing Saint Kliment Ohridski (Saint Clement Ohridski, Св. Климент Охридски) – life and work

Saint Kliment Ohridski (Saint Clement Ohridski, Св. Климент Охридски) – life and work

For the Macedonian and general Slavic culture and education, it’s of huge importance the literary and educational activity of Clement Ohridski in Macedonia. He was one of the direct students of the Thessaloniki brothers Cyril and Methodius and the most faithful follower of their work.

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For the life and work of Clement Ohridski mainly we learn from the Spacious Clement’s Hagiography written in Greek by Teofilakt Ohridski (XI-XII) and the Short Hagiography of the Ohrid archbishop Dimitrija Homtjan and that is written in Greek about 300 years after the death of Clement, as well as the Slavic hagiographies of Naum Ohrdiski, written most probably by the students of Clement and Naum Ohridski.

From these hagiographies, we can not concretely find out biographical data. It was thought that he was born around 830-840. It is questionable the place of his birth. From one side it was thought that it was somewhere in Moravia and others think that it was in Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia.

The most probable and the most supported is the presumption that he was from Macedonia and the birth place was Ohrid. Referring to the question about his relatives, there is an opinion that Clement is Naum’s brother. It was concluded like that because in the Slavic Naum’s hagiography, Clement was named as a brother of Naum. That “brother” can also mean by religious line or by the educational work that they both worked in Macedonia.

H. Polenakovik believed that Clement was a real brother of Naum. It was thought that Clement participated in the mission that the holy brothers had at the Hazards 859­ 861. Then together with Naum and some others Cyril and Methodius students he went on the famous Moravia mission. Teofilakt widely wrote in his hagiography for the reception of Cyril and Methodius at the pope in Rome where Clement participated and when he was ordained for a priest.

After the severe persecution of Cyril and Methodius students from Moravia, one group led by Clement found shelter at the Bulgarian prince Boris and by directive of Boris at the end of IX century, Clement was sent to his fatherland Macedonia, precisely in Kutmicevica, where he developed his wider teaching, writing and church activity. In Teofilakt’s spacious Clement hagiography it was told in detail for Clement as a teacher in Kutmicevica, as well as an episcope in Drembica and Velika. In the science it was not yet precisely confirmed where these places were but, almost all prepositions are directed to Ohrid, that is the triangle between Macedonia, Albania, and Greece.

In Macedonia, he remained till his death in 916.

The work of Clement can be seen from several aspects and that is as a national teacher, writer, and church preacher –spreader of the Christian religion in Macedonia. Discussing the work of Clement, it could be said that he is the founder of the culture and education in Macedonia.

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Teofilakt in his spacious Clement hagiography said that Clement had 3500 students. This number is huge and for current conditions. Surely, such educational action requested great effort, so Clement worked day and night or as Teofilakt said:

…“We never saw that he was with no work, but that he studied children in different ways – he showed the forms of the letters to one side and to the others he explained the sense of the written and to third he lead their hands to write.

So, Clement working in his own way he made literate about 3500 students which is his own record not only for that time but even for today. Clement worked sometimes two things at the same time and he taught the students some knowledge and wrote. Clement some of his students he appointed for deacons and priests. After he had made literate and they discovered the secret of science, he distributed them by areas in order to continue the educational work. In that way Clement’s school that some named it university, became a center of the Slavic culture and education.

Clement not only that he taught his students to write and read, but he also taught them to love the book, he taught them in the practical life that is how to transplant trees for the fruits and etc. So, according to Teofilakt the tireless teacher worked whole seven years and in the eighth year from his work the prince Boris died, and on his position came Simeon, who appointed the hardworking teacher for an episcope of Drembica and Velika. As for Kutmicevica, so for Drembica and Velika in science, it was not correctly determined where they were. There are opinions that the Velika eparchy was in central Macedonia exactly around Debarca, Kicevo, Polot, and the region of the river Treska which upper now today is named as Velika. After he had been appointed for an episcope, his teacher’s position in Kutmicevica was taken by Naum in 893.

Simeon sent Naum to his brother Clement to help him in his work that is to continue his educational work in Macedonia. So both cultural-educational apostles were crowned with the epithet national teachers and Slavic educators i.e. Macedonian.