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Our Great Father, Saint Maron

Maron’s light shined forth from the mountains of Qorosh, in Northern Syria, to guide the thirsty souls to the fountain of life, i.e Jesus Christ, at a time when heresies dominated and spread out evil in that region. Saint Maron is the father of the Maronite Church, holding high long generations its flag of faith and glory.

The grand historian Theodoros, bishop of Qorosh, tells us about the “Divine Maron”, a leader among great solitarian monks, in his book “The History of Monks and Hermits”; he says:

Maron adorned the ranks of saints, who wear on God, he led a life of holiness, austere sacrifices and ceaseless prayer in the open air, taken from the nature his home, and occasionally taking refuge in a small tent.

There was an old pagan temple, which Saint Maron consecrated and transformed into a Church for the true God, and wherein he spent the long nights in praising and worshiping God on his knees, meditating His divine mysteries. After a long night spent in prayer and mtaniehs (bowing downs), Maron would use the day time to preach, and comfort his visitors, and consol those in distress.

All this, was not enough to satisfy Maron’s desire for holiness, adds Theodoros, he rather would come up with new creative wise ways to love God, balancing between a life of prayer and missionary activities, knowing that a soldier’s recompense matches his deeds. Then, God who is always generous towards his saints, blessed Maron with the gift of healing so that his reputation was all over the world and people started marching to him from every side. Maron was well known for his heroic virtues, and the numerous miracles God made through him, and while physicians worked to find the adequate medicine for each malady, saint Maron treated the diverse illnesses, and cast away devils, and converted people to God, healing them from their vices, using only prayer, knowing that in prayer resides the cure for every evil. Our historian, bishop Theodoritos of Antioch, concludes Saint Maron’s story saying that “Maron had planted for God a beautiful garden in Qorosh, rich in various virtues and saints.”

Maron avoided earthly glory and detested fame, and preferred solitary life on the mountain, wherefrom his hermitage the fruits of his holiness spread all over the world. Saint John Chrysostom knew him, and wrote to him from his exile the following letter (#36), which speaks out of spiritual friendship, and mutual respect that these two great men exchanged:

To Maron the priest and hermit,

The friendship that relates us, makes you always present in front of my eyes, even when long distances separate us, because love is greater than to be blocked by thousand miles or long years of separation. We (I) wished, we could correspond more often with you, however we found ourselves limited by the rarity of travelers between your land and our exile. So, we wish you all the best, and want you to be aware that we constantly remember you wherever we are, and have a great respect for you.

For us, to Learn that you are doing fine is always a great source of consolation and joy for us in this estrange exile of ours; so, So, do not deprive us from your news. Finally, we ask you to please pray to God for us (Cf. Collection ‘M’ in the Greek Fathers, volume 72, column 63).”

The fame of Maron’s great holiness worked like a magnet that attracted a multitude of monks around him, who wished to be under his guidance following Jesus in the narrow tough paths of holiness. Though, Maron organized them in solitary hermitages according to the monastic tradition of that time. Then, he established for them monasteries and rules and accompanied them with his prayers and guidance, directing them in the narrow ways of perfection. These Maronite monasteries multiplied and grew up, especially in the northern lands of Syria, and were a source of spiritual welfare and great pleasure for the bishop Theodoritos.

Saint Maron died around the year 410. However, his spirituality would live for ever, carried out by his disciples all over the world. The Maronite Church is centered in Lebanon today, wherein it flourished and spread out its branches to all over the world, where its children carry with them the devotion to their holy father Maron:

وعليـــك وطّدنـــا رجانـــــا

باسمِكَ دُعينــــا يــــا أبانـــا

واخــتُم بالخيـرِ مســعانـــــا

كُــنْ فـي الضــيقاتِ ملجانــــا


We got named after you, our father

And in you our hope is strong

Be in the hardships, our refuge

And direct our struggles to a good end[1].


[1] This is my “personal” translation of an excerpt of the Maronite Liturgy for the feast of Saint Maron.