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|Saint John Maron|
|Maronite Patriarch of Antioch|
|Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church|
John was born in Sarum, a town located south of the city of Antioch. He was the son of Agathon and Anohamia. He was called John the Sarumite since his father was governor of Sarum. His paternal grandfather, Prince Alidipas, was the nephew of Carloman, a Frankish Prince, and governed Antioch. John was educated in Antioch and the monastery of Saint Maron studying mathematics, sciences, philosophy, theology, philology and scripture. He became a monk at the monastery of Saint Maron, adding the name Maron to his own.
John studied Greek and patrology in Constantinople. Returning to Saint Maron's, he wrote on such diverse topics as teaching, rhetoric, the sacraments, management of Church property, legislative techniques, and liturgy. He composed the Eucharistic Prayer which still bears his name. As a young priest he engaged himself in ecumenical debates with the Monophysites. Noted as a teacher and preacher, he explained Catholic dogma of the Council of Chalcedon (which focused on the nature of Jesus as both God and human), wrote a series of letters to the faithful against Monothelitism, and then travelled Syria to explain the heresy.
He was consecrated bishop in 676, but assigned to Mount Lebanon with a mission to oppose heresies, keep the Maronites united with the Church, and support the faithful in an area being invaded by Arabs. He travelled extensively in the areas involved in combat, preaching, conducting Mass, tending to the sick, and sheltering the homeless. It was during this terrible period that he was given the gift of healing, curing many praying over them.
The first Maronite Patriarch
The Maronites made up the bulk of the Maradite army, the so-called "Brass Wall" that shielded Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire from Arab expansion. In 686 the Maradites used their power and importance to choose John Maron, one of their own, as Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. John received the approval of Pope Sergius I, and became the first Maronite Patriarch of the oldest see in Christianity.
The Byzantine emperor Justinian II feared the growing power of the Maradite army, and was angered that his approval had not been sought for the appointment of John as Patriarch. He sent his army to defeat the Maradites and capture John. They managed to win battles against the Maradites, overrun Antioch, and destroy the monastery there, killing 500 monks in the process. John, however, escaped to Lebanon. When Justinian's army followed, the Maradites, under the leadership of John's nephew Ibrahim, defeated them decisively, sending them home empty-handed. John then founded the monastery of Reesh Moran (head of our Lord) in Kefer Hay, Lebanon, and moved his see to Mount Lebanon. The Maradites sealed themselves off from the outside, and founded their own national and religious identity, though still part of the Catholic Church, with John seen as one of their great founders.