Every year, on the 9th of February, Lebanon celebrates St. Maroun, a Christian missionary who lived around 350-410 AD, and established a Christian movement where he converted most of non-Christians in Lebanon and encouraged them to discover the Christian faith.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Born in Cyrrhus near Antioch, Syria, Maroun spent most of his life as a missionary and hermit, teaching people to follow an ascetic way of life, and was known for his performances of healing rituals and miracles. A lot of people followed in his footstep, and from there, he established what we now call the Maronite Catholic church. It is believed that he lived in a place called “Kefar-Nabo” in the Syrian mountains, and that the spread of his work to Lebanon is the work of Abraham of Cyrrhus, his disciple, known as ‘the Apostle of Lebanon’, as he began converting people to Christianity according to Maroun’s way of life.
Maroun became popular when he converted a temple in the mountain of Syria into a Christian church, the foundation of the spread of Christianity to Lebanon. His death in 410 did not end his mission, as his followers carried on his values and teachings. According to Maronite tradition, his followers carried his relics to a monastery built for him in 452, “Beit Maroun”, between Hama and Aleppo. His skull was carried to St. Maroun Monastery in Kfarhai, Batroun, at the turn of the 8th century, and later on, it was taken to Italy, where it was inserted into a silver statue of the saint. So far, the Maronite church has recognized more than 20 saints.
TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS
February 9th is a national holiday, and only few private establishments open on that day. Maronites celebrate the day in their respective churches with special services, luncheon and activities. A unique cross was developed to represent the Maronite faith, giving tribute to the Holy Trinity by having three crossbars representing Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is also frequent reference to the cedar of Lebanon.
Have a peaceful St. Maroun’s day, everyone, and more specifically to all our Maroun friends out there !