Envirowaste, a UK-based environmental waste company, made a startling discovery in April. It was during an ordinary waste collection in central London that workers found a gold reliquary containing a bone of St. Clement. The president of Envirowaste, James Rubin, released a statement acknowledging that the red and gold reliquary is an important piece of history and asked the public to suggest the most appropriate setting for its final resting place. “You can imagine our amazement when we realised our clearance teams had found bone belonging to a Pope – it’s not something you expect to see, even in our line of work. We often come across some weird and wonderful things on clearances, but we were definitely not expecting to find a bone fragment of an apostle.”
Pope St. Clement is considered to be the first apostolic father of the Catholic church. Clement served as pope nearly 2,000 years ago from 92 to 101 AD. Experts believe that that the martyred saint died in 110 AD at the age of 75, therefore making the bone nearly 2,000 years old. He is believed to have been a disciple of Sts. Peter, the first pope, and Paul. It is believed that Clement converted from Judaism to the Catholic faith. He possibly shared in some of the missionary journeys of St. Peter or St. Paul while assisting them in the Church at a local level. Clement was elected to the papacy in 90 AD, following the deaths of Peter, Linus and Cletus at the hands of the Romans. One account claims that Clement died an exile in Crimea, while it was the Emperor Trajan who purportedly had him killed in retaliation for evangelizing the local people in 100 AD. He is among the saints mentioned in the Roman canon of the traditional Latin Mass.
In 868, the Greek missionary St. Cyril claimed to have recovered St. Clement’s bones. Cyril joined his brother, St. Methodius, on a journey to evangelize the Slavic peoples after being sent by a pope.
No one has claimed to own the relic. Rubin is seeking to have scientists have the relic carbon dated to test its authenticity. The fragment of a bone from St. Clement is encased in a wax-sealed case. An inscription that it is “from the bones of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr” is included.
Enviro Waste is asking visitors to its website to provide suggestions as to where the relic should be kept. Suggestions have included the British Museum or the Church of St. Clement in Rome.