Kefar-Nabo, Ol-Yambos, Syria Prima province, Byzantine Empire
|Venerated in||Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Major shrine||Maronite Church|
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Maroun (also Maron or Maro; Syriac: ܡܪܝ ܡܪܘܢ, Mor(y) Morōn; Arabic: مار مارون) was a 4th-century Syriac Christian monk whose followers, after his death, founded a religious Christian movement that became known as the Maronite Church. The religious community which grew from this movement are the modern Maronites.
He was a priest that later became a hermit. After his death in 410 AD, his life of sanctity and miracles attracted many followers and drew attention throughout the Mediterranean empire. In religious imagery, Saint Maroun is often portrayed in a black habit garment with a hanging stole, accompanied by a long crosier staffed by a globe surmounted with a cross.
The Maronite movement
Maroun is considered the Father of the spiritual and monastic movement now called the Maronite Church. This movement has had a profound influence in Lebanon, and one to a lesser degree in modern-day Syria, Jordan and Israel. Saint Maroun spent all of his life on a mountain in Syria. It is believed that the place was called "Kefar-Nabo" on the mountain of Ol-Yambos, making it the cradle of the Maronite movement.
The Maronite movement reached Lebanon when Saint Maroun's first disciple, Abraham of Cyrrhus, who was called the Apostle of Lebanon, realised that there were many non-Christians in Lebanon and so he set out to convert them to Christianity by introducing them to the way of Saint Maroun. The followers of Saint Maroun, both monks and laity, for emphasizing the mia-thelite union of Christ's will with God's, were accused by Byzantium of monothelitism. However, Maronite historians argue that they have always remained in full orthodox communion with Rome. Saint Maroun's feast day is celebrated on February 9.
Maroun's way was deeply monastic with emphasis on the spiritual and ascetic aspects of living, contrasted by the fact that the 'Khoury,' or, 'priest' of the Maronite rite can be a married man. For Saint Maroun, all was connected to God and God was connected to all. He did not separate the physical and spiritual world and actually used the physical world to deepen his faith and spiritual experience with God.
Saint Maroun embraced the quiet solitude of the mountain life. He lived his life in open air exposed to the forces of nature such as sun, rain, hail and snow. His extraordinary desire to come to know God's presence in all things allowed Saint Maroun to transcend such forces and discover that intimate union with God. He was able to free himself from the physical world by his passion and fervour for prayer and enter into a mystical relationship of love with God.
The Maronite church can occasionally accept a married man to become a priest in the event the marriage itself took place before the concerned individual pronounces the required vows and certainly before being ordained. Consequently, married priests can only perform ministry duties for the rest of their lives and would never be allowed to occupy higher positions within the church itself.
Saint Maroun was a mystic who started this new ascetic-spiritual method that attracted many people in Syria and Lebanon to become his disciples. Accompanying his deeply spiritual and ascetic life, he was a zealous missionary with a passion to spread the message of Christ by preaching it to all he met. He sought not only to cure the physical ailments that people suffered, but had a great quest for nurturing and healing the "lost souls" of both non-Christians and Christians of his time.
This missionary work came to fruition when in the mountains of Syria, Saint Maroun was able to convert a temple into a Christian church. This was to be the beginning of the conversion to Christianity in Syria which would then influence and spread to Lebanon. After his death in the year 410, his spirit and teachings lived on through his disciples.
His burial place is a debated issue. Some Lebanese sources, such as Giuseppe Simone Assemani and Maronite bishop Yusef al-Dibs believe he was buried Arethusa or modern-day al-Rastan along the Orontes River in Syria, while others like Jesuit priest Henri Lammens claim he is buried in Brad village to the north of Aleppo.
- The town of Volperino in Italy. After being brought to Sassovivo Abbey in Foligno, Saint Maroun's relics were kept for a long time in the tiny village of Volperino, before being transferred to Saint Felicianus Cathedral church in Foligno.
- The Eparchy of Saint Maroun of Brooklyn
- The Eparchy of Saint Maroun of Australia.
On 23 February 2011, Pope Benedict XVI unveiled a statue of Saint Maroun on the outer wall of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican and imparted his Apostolic Blessing. The 15 feet tall statue was commissioned by the Maronite Church to the Spanish sculptor Marco Augusto Dueñas. The saint appears in the sculpture holding a miniature, Maronite style church; the sculpture also features an inscription in Syriac reading: The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon. The statue occupied the last available niche in the outer perimeter of Saint Peter's Basilica.
In June 2012, an icon of Saint Maroun, as well as several icons based on images from the 5th-century Syriac Rabboula manuscript including the Crucifixion, the Marian icon of the "Mother of Light" and the Evangelists, was donated, installed and was solemnly attended by Cardinal Donald Wuerl at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C, and was formally dedicated on September 23, 2012.
- "The Divine Office for Lent". World Digital Library. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- Saint Maroun. Opus Libani. Retrieved on 2008-02-15.
- 'Monks and Monasteries of the Near East' Jules Leroy, 2004, p.106
- Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
- Moosa, Matti. The Maronites in History. Gorgias Press LLC, 2005. ISBN 1593331827.
- "St. Maron, Healer of Bodies and Souls", Institute for Traditional Medicine
- "St Maroun - The gift of blessing and curing", Maronite history Project
- Rome Reports news agency staff (February 24, 2011). "New Statue in Saint Peter’s includes words in Syriac, blessed by Pope". Rome reports. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
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