“Maronites are a people of authentic identity. The Holy Valley of Kadisha, with its hermitages graved in rocks overhung by the Cedars which endlessly extend the vertiginous summits of the mountains, are the symbols of the Maronites’ tenacity, vitality and independence. The Patriarchal Monastery of Qannoubin, perched as an eagle’s nest, summarizes their entire history” (Rene Ristelhuber, French author).
The term “Maronites” refers to disciples of Saint Maron, a hermit who lived between the fourth and the fifth centuries A. D. in a region near Antioch. Fascinated by his unwavering faith and his profound holiness, devotees from various parts of the region gathered around Saint Maron who lived a life of asceticism and devoted his existence to the love of God. Saint Maron is the patron Saint of the Maronite Church which is the only Catholic Church to hold the name of its founder. Maronites followers are renowned for their strong commitment to the precepts of the Church and are in perfect harmony with the Holy See.
The Maronites lived at a crossroad of different cultures and beliefs and thus, their history was marked by continuous and numerous constraints which lead to persecutions and devastating wars. As early as the year 450 A.D., some disciples of Saint Maron left the North of Syria to take refuge in the Lebanese mountains where they enjoyed peacefulness and security under the shadow of the cedars. It was the undertaking of those disciples and followers of Saint Maron to preach Christianity among inhabitants of these mountains.
Noteworthy that the inhabitants of the Lebanese coastal cities and the Bekaa were the first to embrace Christianity around the year 34 A.D. If we refer to the four Evangelists, the Christ addressed to Lebanese when He visited Tyre, Sidon and their surroundings, which are regions that witnessed some of His miracles. However, villages and inside mountainous regions remained the refuge of pagan followers of God Baal. Though the difficulties Saint Maron disciples encountered in spreading Christianity, they accomplished this daring mission and achieved their goal successfully.
Since then, the history of Maronites has been intertwined with that of Lebanon. Without Maronites, Lebanon would have not existed as an entity, and without Lebanon, Christianity in the Middle East would not have been what it is today. Lebanon remains undoubtedly the only spiritual Land of Maronites who preserve today, as strongly as ever, their tradition of hospitality, openness, attachment to their Land, thirst for freedom, and resolutely unite around their Patriarch.
|The Maronite Patriarchate in Dimane
||The Maronite Patriarchate in Bkerki|