The Maronite Catholic Church, an Eastern Rite Catholic com- munity, celebrates the feast of Saint Maroun on February 9. Saint Maroun is considered the father of the Maronite Catholic community, which professes the same apostolic faith, celebrates the same sac- raments and is united with the chief shepherd of the Church, the pope, as are all Roman Catholics through- out the world.
Based in part on the writings of Saint John Chrysostom (feast, Sept. 13), Saint Maroun’s life is dated at approx- imately 350-410. Saints Maroun and John Chrysos- tom are believed to have studied together in the great Christian learning center at Antioch, which at the time was the third largest city in the Roman Empire.
Unlike Saint John Chrysostom, who became Archbish- op of Constantinople, Saint Maroun embraced a life of quiet, prayerful solitude in the mountains of Syria. He was known for his simplicity and his extraordinary desire to discover God’s presence in all things. He was also known for his evangelization efforts and his ex- tensive healing ministry. He shared his deep commit- ment to Christ with everyone he encountered.
Saint Maroun’s missionary work came to fruition when he converted an entire pagan community living in the mountains of Syria to Christianity. This was the begin- ning of mass conversions to Christianity in Syria. Saint Maroun attracted a multitude of followers and drew attention throughout the empire. His influence on the Syrian Christians was so great they took their name after him, “Maronites.” In time, the Maronite move- ment spread the Christian faith to Lebanon where its influence was even more profound.
Saint Maroun is the patron saint of Lebanon, which celebrates his feast day as a national civic holiday for Christians and Muslims alike. Pope Benedict XVI has granted a plenary indulgence to anyone who visits a Maronite church on February 9th.
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