Maronite Church
Maronite Church
Maronitelogo.jpg
The saying "The glory of Lebanon was given to him"(Isaiah 35:2) has been applied to the Maronite Patriarch.
Founder Maron, AD 410; John Maron, 7th century
Independence
Recognition Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches
Primate
Headquarters Bkerké, Lebanon
Territory Syria, Lebanon, USA, Israel, Australia, Brazil
Possessions
Language Syriac (liturgy), Arabic (used to be exclusively Syriac)
Adherents 3,500,000[1]
Website

The Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch (Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܡܪܘܢܝܬܐ ܕܐܢܛܝܘܟܝܐʿīṯo suryaiṯo māronaiṯo d'anṭiokia; Arabic: الكنيسة الأنطاكية السريانية المارونيةal-kanīsa al-antākīyya al-seryānīyya al-mārwnīyya; Latin: Ecclesia Maronitarum) is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See of Rome (in other words, Maronites are part of the Catholic Church). It traces its heritage back to the community founded by Maron, a 4th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. The first Maronite Patriarch, John Maron, was elected in the late 7th century. Although reduced in numbers today, Maronites remain one of the principal ethno-religious groups in Lebanon. The Maronite Church asserts that it has always remained true to the Church of Rome.[2]

Before the conquest by Arabian Muslims reached Lebanon, the Lebanese people, including those who would become Muslim and the majority who would remain Christian, spoke a dialect of Aramaic.[3][4][5] Syriac (Christian Aramaic) still remains the liturgical language of the Maronite Church.[6] The members of the Maronite Church are a part of the Syriac people; though they have, over time, developed a distinctive Maronite character, this has not obscured their Antiochene and Syriac origin.[7][8]

Contents

History

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St Maron (died sometime between 406 and 423AD), founder of the Maronite spiritual movement. Since the 17th century, his feast day has been celebrated on February 9.

The followers of Jesus Christ first became known as "Christians" in Antioch (Acts 11:26), and the city became a center for Christianity - especially after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. According to Catholic tradition, the first Bishop was Saint Peter before his travels to Rome. The third Bishop was the Apostolic Father Ignatius of Antioch. Antioch became one of the five original Patriarchates (the Pentarchy) after Constantine recognized Christianity.

St. Maron, a fourth-century monk and the contemporary and friend of St. John Chrysostom, left Antioch for the Orontes River to lead an ascetic life, following the traditions of Anthony the Great of the Desert and Pachomius. Many of his followers also lived a monastic lifestyle. Following the death of Maron in 410 AD, his disciples built a monastery in his memory and formed the nucleus of the Maronite Church.

The Maronites held fast to the beliefs of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. When 350 monks were slain by the Monophysites of Antioch, the Maronites sought refuge in the mountains of Lebanon. Correspondence concerning the event brought papal and orthodox recognition of the Maronites, which was solidified by Pope Hormisdas (514-523 AD) on February 10, AD 518. A monastery was built around the shrine of St. Maro after the Council of Chalcedon.[9]

The martyrdom of the Patriarch of Antioch in the first decade of the seventh century, either at the hands of Persian soldiers or local Jews,[10] left the Maronites without a leader, a situation which continued because of the final and most devastating Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628. In the aftermath of the war, the Emperor Heraclius propagated a new Christological doctrine in an attempt to unify the various Christian churches of the east, who were divided over accepting the Council of Chalcedon. This doctrine, monothelitism, was meant as a compromise between supporters of Chalcedon, like the Maronites, and opponents, like the Jacobites. Instead this new doctrine caused greater controversy, and was declared a heresy at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681. Contemporary Greek and Arab sources, however, claimed that the Maronites accepted monothelitism, rejected the sixth council and continued to maintain a belief in the largely discredited monothelete doctrine for centuries, only moving away from monothelitism in the time of the crusades in order to avoid being branded heretics by the crusaders. The modern Maronite Church, however, rejects the assertion that the Maronites were ever monothelites, and the question remains a major controversy to this day.[11]

In 687 AD, the Emperor Justinian II agreed to evacuate many thousands of Maronites from Lebanon and settle them elsewhere. The chaos and utter depression which followed led the Maronites to elect their first Patriarch, John Maroun, that year. This, however, was seen as a usurpation by the Orthodox churches. Thus, at a time when Islam was rising on the borders of the Byzantine Empire and a united front was necessary to keep out Islamic infiltration, the Maronites were focused on a struggle to retain their independence against imperial power. This situation was mirrored in other Christian communities in the Byzantine Empire and helped facilitate the Muslim conquest of most of Eastern Christendom by the end of the century.

Muslim rule

After they came under Arab rule following the Muslim conquest of Syria, the Maronites experienced an improvement in their relationship with the Byzantine Empire. The imperial court, seeing its earlier mistake, saw an advantage in the situation. Thus, Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV provided direct ecclesiastical, political and military support to the Maronites. The new alliance soon coordinated devastating raids on Muslim forces, providing a welcome relief to besieged Christians throughout the Middle East. Some of the Maronites relocated to Mount Lebanon at this time and formed several communities that became known as the Marada. That is from the view of 17th century Patriarch Estephan El Douaihy (also known as Stephane Al Doueihi Arabic: أسطفان الدويهي‎, “The Father of Maronite History” and the “Pillar of the Maronite Church”).

Another view is of Ibn al-Qilaii, a Maronite scholar from the 16th century, who proposed that Maronites fled Muslim persecutions of the Umayyads in the late 9th century AD.

The most widely accepted theory postulates that the Maronites fled Jacobite monophysite persecution, because of Monothelite heresy as advanced by Sergius of Tyr, a scholar of the 10th century AD. It is most probable, because nearly all the sects became Monothelite after that it was introduced by Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople. The Maronite migration to the mountains took place over a long period, but its peak must have been during the 7th century.

Around AD 1017, a new Muslim sect emerged calling themselves the Druze. At that time, the Maronites, as dhimmis, were required to wear black robes and black turbans, so as to be easily identified; they were also forbidden to ride horses.

Maronite monk and pilgrims, Mount Lebanon.

Following the conquest of Eastern Christendom outside of Anatolia and Europe by the Muslims, and the establishment of secured lines of control between Islamic Caliphs and Byzantine Emperors, little was heard from the Maronites for 400 years. Secure in their mountain strongholds, it was not until the crusader Raymond of Toulouse on his way to conquer Jerusalem in the Great Crusade that the Maronites were re-discovered in the mountains near Tripoli, Lebanon. Raymond later returned to besiege Tripoli after his conquest of Jerusalem and relations between the Maronites and European Christianity were re-established.

Crusades

It was late in the 11th century when the Crusaders made their way to the lands of the Levant to overthrow Islamic rule; on their way, they passed through mount Lebanon, where they came across the Maronites. The Maronites had been largely cut off from the rest of the Christian world for around 400 years. The Church in Rome had been unaware that the Maronites were still in existence. The crusaders and Maronites established ties and from this point provided each other with mutual assistance.

During the Crusades in the 12th century AD, Maronites assisted the Crusaders and affirmed their affiliation with the Holy See in 1182 AD. Consequently, from this point onwards, the Maronites have upheld an unbroken ecclesiastical orthodoxy and unity with the Catholic Church. To commemorate their communion, Maronite Patriarch Youseff Al Jirjisi received the crown and staff marking his patriarchal authority, from Pope Paschal II in 1100 AD. In 1131, Maronite Patriarch Gregorious Al Halati received letters from Pope Innocent II in which the Papacy recognized the authority of the Patriarchate.

For a long time Maronites had been effectively isolated from Christians of the Byzantine Empire and Western Europe. As a result, they appointed their own Patriarch, starting with John Maron, who had been a bishop of Batroun, Mount Lebanon. Through him, the Maronites of today claim full apostolic succession through the See of Antioch. Nonetheless, controversy surrounds this claim as some Maronites had been accused of having fully adopted the Monothelite heresy; this led to a number of civil wars (e.g. 1282 and 1499 AD).

Ottoman rule

Following the defeat of the Mamelukes by the Ottoman Empire, and to reward their new Druze ally who fought with them in the battle of Marj Dabek (1516), the Ottomans rewarded Prince Fakher el Din al Maani I, with the Principality of Lebanon, where he established a Druze-Maronite alliance lasting for hundreds of years; this prosperous principality would be the base of the modern Lebanese Republic.

The Maronites were partners in governing the new principality; often the post of Moudabbir (roughly Prime Minister) and the post of Army Commander were given to a Maronite, usually a Khazen or a Hobeich of Keserwan. During this period (1516-1840), the Maronites started returning to southern Mount Lebanon, where they had lived before they were almost exterminated by the Mamelukes in 1307. Thus, the historic Keserwan and all the Druze mountains were repopulated. It was this love and affection between the Maronites and Druze that helped establish the Lebanese identity.

On July 15, 1584, a Maronite college was established in Rome, with Pope Gregory hosting the grand opening.

Fakhr-al-din II, who was said to have been brought up by a Maronite el Khazen family, fought for Lebanese independence for over 50 years. In the mid-16th century, 25,000 Ottoman troops launched an attack on Lebanon. During the ensuing battles, Fakhr and three of his sons were captured; they were subsequently executed in Istanbul on the 13th day of April 1635.

In 1638, France declared that it would protect all Catholics within the Ottoman Empire, including the Maronites.

It was in the 17th century AD when Western religious groups started settling in Lebanon. The migration began in 1626 with the Capuchins, followed by the Jesuits. The groups moving at this time did this in order to serve the Lebanese, opening schools for the Maronite people until there was a school next to each church. This made it possible for the Maronites to acquire a formal education. The Maronites were on the forefront of the cultural Renaissance in the Middle East.

Maronite nun from Mount Lebanon, painting from 1779.

However, connection to Rome was arduously maintained and through diplomacy and maneuvering, European powers helped keep the Maronite community from destruction. Eventually, a Maronite College was established at Rome on July 5, 1584. From this college, the Maronite community obtained some valuable assistance in maintaining their Christian identity. In 1610, the Maronite monks of the Monastery of Saint Anthony of Qozhaya imported one of the first printing presses in what is known as the Arabic-speaking world; however that press was printing in the Syriac language and not Arabic. The monasteries of Lebanon would later become key players in the Arabic Renaissance of the late 19th century as a result of developing Arabic, as well as Syriac, printable script.

In 1856, the Maronites' uprising took place against governor (Dawood Pasha). Youssef Karam was the son of Sheikh Boutros Karam, at that time the Sheikh was lord of Ehden and surrounding district.

In 1997, Pope John Paul II visited Lebanon to give hope to Lebanese Catholics. He said, "Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message."

French rule

Independent Lebanon

Organization

The Peshitta is the standard Syriac Bible, used by the Maronite Church, amongst others. The illustration is of the Peshitta text of Exodus 13:14-16 produced in Amida in the year 464.

The head of the Maronite Church is the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, who is elected by the Maronite bishops and resides in Bkerké, close to Jounieh, north of Beirut (the Maronite Patriarch resides in the northern town of Dimane during the summer months). The current Patriarch (since March 2011) is Bechara Boutros Rahi, while Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir is Patriarch Emeritus. When a new patriarch is elected and enthroned, he requests ecclesiastical recognition by the Pope, thus maintaining their communion with the Holy See. As an Eastern patriarch, the patriarch is usually created a Cardinal by the Pope in the rank of a Cardinal Bishop; he does not receive a suburbicarian see, since he is a head of a sui iuris Church.

Maronites share the same doctrine as other Catholics, but they retain their own liturgy, theology, spirituality, discipline and hierarchy. Strictly speaking, the Maronite church belongs to the Antiochene tradition and is a West Syro-Antiochene Rite. Syriac is the liturgical language. Nevertheless, they are considered, to be among the most Latinized of the Eastern Catholic Churches although there have been moves to return to Eastern practices.

Cardinal Sfeir's personal commitment accelerated liturgical reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, bearing fruit in 1992 with the publication of a new Maronite Missal. This represents an attempt to return to the original form of the Antiochene Liturgy, removing the liturgical Latinization of past centuries. The Service of the Word has been described as far more enriched than in previous missals, and it features six Anaphoras (Eucharistic Prayers).

Celibacy is not strictly required for Maronite deacons and priests outside of North America with parishes; monks, however, must remain celibate, as well as bishops who are normally selected from the monasteries. Due to a long-term understanding with their Latin counterparts in North America, Maronite priests in that area are expected to remain celibate. The bishops who serve as eparchs and archeparchs of the eparchies and archeparchies (the equivalent of diocese and archdiocese in the Latin Catholic Church) are answerable to the Patriarch.

Eparchies

The church has twenty six eparchies and patriarchal vicariats as follows:[12]

In Lebanon: Zahleh, Tyre, Tripoli, Sidon, Sarba (vicariat), Jounieh (vicariat), Zgharta (vicariat), Joubbeh (vicariat), Jbeil, Beirut, Batroun, Baalbeck and Deir el Ahmar and Antelias

In Syria: Latakia, Damascus and Aleppo

In Israel: Haifa, Holy Land and the Patriarchal Vicar

Elsewhere: Cyprus, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Sydney, Montreal, Mexico, Los Angeles and Brooklyn


Population

  Part of a series of articles on the
Maronites

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History
History of Phoenicians
Byzantine Empire  · Crusades
Marada  · Mardaites
History of Lebanon
1958 Lebanon crisis  · Lebanese Civil War

Religious affiliation
Maronite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
Lebanese Maronite Order
Mar Bechara Boutros Raï

Politics
Lebanese politics
Lebanese nationalism
Phoenicianism
Kataeb Party  · March 14 Alliance

Languages
Cypriot Maronite Arabic  · Lebanese Arabic  · Aramaic
Arabic

Communities
Cyprus · Israel · Lebanon · Jordan · Syria
Diaspora

v · Maronites

The exact worldwide Maronite population is not exactly known, being estimated at more than 3 million, according to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

Based on a 2007 report, there are approximately 930,000 Maronites in Lebanon, where they constitute up to 22% of the population.[13] Syrian Maronites total 51,000 and they follow the archdioceses of Aleppo and Damascus and the Diocese of Latakia.[14] There is also a Maronite community in Cyprus of about 10,000,[14] which speaks Cypriot Maronite Arabic.[15][16] A noticeable Maronite community exists in northern Israel, numbering 7,504.[14]

Diaspora

The two residing eparchies in the United States have issued their own "Maronite Census", designed to estimate how many Maronites reside in the United States. Many Maronites have been assimilated into Western Catholicism as there were no Maronite parishes or priests available. The "Maronite Census" was designed to locate these Maronites. There are also eparchies at São Paulo in Brazil, as well as in Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Canada and Mexico.[14]

The history of the Lebanese Community in South Africa goes back to the late 19th century, when the first immigrants arrived in Johannesburg, the biggest city in the Transvaal coming from Sebhel, Mesyara, Becharre, Hadath El-Joube, Maghdoushe and other places. It is recorded that in the year 1896 the first Maronite and Lebanese immigrants arrived in Durban, Cape Town and Mozambique, and congregated around their local Catholic Churches.

See also

References

  1. ^ "There are 3,500,000 Maronites in the World". Maronite-heritage.com. 1994-01-03. http://www.maronite-heritage.com/LNE.php?page=Statistics. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  2. ^ "The Eastern Catholic Churches". http://www.maryourmother.net/Eastern.html. 
  3. ^ "Review of Phares Book". Walidphares.com. http://www.walidphares.com/artman/publish/article_58.shtml. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  4. ^ The Precarious Republic: Political Modernization in Lebanon. By Michael C. Hudson, 1968
  5. ^ Lebanon: Its Stand in History Among the Near East Countries By Salim Wakim, 1996.
  6. ^ "St. George Maronite Church". Stgeorgesa.org. http://www.stgeorgesa.org/. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  7. ^ "Identity of the Maronite Church". http://www.bkerkelb.org/english/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=143:-introduction&catid=35:maronite-identity-&Itemid=55. 
  8. ^ "Identity of the Maronite Church - A Syriac Antiochene Church with a Special Lit. Heritage". http://www.bkerkelb.org/english/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=142:-identity-of-the-maronite-church-a-syriac-antiochene-church-with-a-special-liturgical-heritage&catid=35:maronite-identity-&Itemid=55. 
  9. ^ Attwater, Donald; The Christian Churches of the East
  10. ^ J. D. Frendo, "Who killed Anastasius II?" Jewish Quarterly Review vol. 72 (1982), 202-4)
  11. ^ Matti Moosa, The Maronites in History (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1986), 195-216.
  12. ^ Church website, accessed 2011-03-20
  13. ^ Lebanon - International Religious Freedom Report 2008 U.S. Department of State. Retrieved on 2009-09-04.
  14. ^ a b c d Annuario Pontificio : The Eastern Catholic Churches 2008. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  15. ^ Maria Tsiapera, A Descriptive Analysis of Cypriot Maronite Arabic, 1969, Mouton and Company, The Hague, 69 pages
  16. ^ Cyprus Ministry of Interior : European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages : Answers to the Comments/Questions Submitted to the Government of Cyprus Regarding its Initial Periodical Report. Retrieved 25 January 2010.

Further reading

  • Moosa, Matti, The Maronites in History, Gorgias Press, Piscataway, NJ, 2005, ISBN 978-1-593-33182-5
  • R. J. Mouawad, Les Maronites. Chrétiens du Liban, Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, 2009, ISBN 978-2-503-53041-3
  • Kamal Salibi - A House of Many Mansions - The History of Lebanon Reconsidered (University of California Press, 1990).
  • Maronite Church. New Catholic Encyclopedia, Second Edition, 2003.
  • Riley-Smith, Johnathan - The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995)

External links

Maronite hierarchy

Eparchies

Church organizations


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