Origins of Maronites

  • 392AD, (Edict of Thessaloniki) under the reign of Theodosius 1st that the Christian religion became the official religion of the Empire and paganism was officially banned.
  • 392-500AD, Antioch played a key role in the evangelization of Syria prima, with the cities of Aleppo, Barad, Cyr and Hierapolis and Syria Secunda with the cities of Apamea and Shayzar. It is also in Antioch that we began to say “Christian” to refer to Jesus’ disciples.
  • 392-410AD, during this turbulent period a monk named Maron (Maroun) would have lived.
  • 440AD, Theodore, bishop of Cyr, in his Historia Religiosa written about thirty years after the death of Saint Maron that occurred in 410AD, refers to details about the life and apostolate of St. Maron.
  • 404AD, St. Maron escaped the chaos of the theological quarrel and retreated atop a mountain named “Nabo” to devote himself to prayer and contemplation. This outdoor ascetic life gave birth to the hermit monasticism. His exemplary life encouraged vocations and the making of disciples who dedicated themselves to the worship of God. They became more and more numerous, especially when Saint Maron had left his hermitage to return among the people to spread the word, and took the name of Maronites.
350-422AD, one of these disciples, Abraham (Ibrahim) of Cyr, later called the “Apostle of Lebanon”, went with some companions to convert to Christianity. He then founded a community of hermits in the backcountry of Byblos near Afka.

  • 451AD, the Emperor Marcian united the church in the fourth ecumenical council of Chalcedon, some forty years after the death of Saint Maron. The fathers present at the Council condemned Monophysism without ambiguity.
  • 6th Century AD, the Emperor Marcian built an important monastery not far from the city of Apamea, known as Mar Maroun which became the most important of the monasteries and the great defender of the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon. The Maronite monks attracted the hostility of the Monophysites. At the beginning of the sixth century, the Byzantine power defended the monophysites. Thus, the Patriarch Severus of Antioch monophysite, supported by the emperor Anastasius, went to persecute the Chalcedonians and at the head of the list the monks of Mar Maroun.
  • 517AD, 350 Maronite monks went to an alleged meeting of reconciliation with the Monophysites were ambushed and massacred.

  • 637AD, the Maronites found refuge in Baalbek, Acre and the cities of the Phoenician coast up to Byblos which did not interest the Arabs. In addition, they took shelter in hard-to-reach places and managed to survive. Maronites even carried out attacks against the invader with the help of Maradas from Taurus, speaking Aramaic and of Chalcedonian faith like them.
  • 685AD, the patriarchal seat was vacant, the Chalcedonians of the Church of Antioch elected their patriarch, Jean-Maron (Youhanna Maroun), a Maronite monk and bishop of Batroun without referring to Constantinople.
  • 694AD, the Maronites were able to resist the Byzantine army and inflict on it a crushing defeat. Youhanna Maroun was elected to the patriarchal seat who officially consecrated the Maronite Church.
  • 938AD, after the destruction of the Maroun monastery by the Arabs, the patriarchal siege was definitively established in Lebanon to escape the disorders which afflicted the countries of the East and which opposed the Byzantines, Seldjukides and Fatimids until the arrival of the Crusaders in 1098AD.
  • 1215AD, during the presence of the Crusaders in the East that the Patriarch Jeremiah of Amchit visited Pope Innocent III and took part in the Lateran Council. The thirteenth century was that of the blossoming of the Maronites. Enjoying the protection of the Crusaders, they were able to proclaim their faith without fear and built many convents and churches.

  • 1291AD, the Mamelukes took back Tripoli from the Crusaders and put an end to their presence on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Several Maronites left with the Crusaders for Cyprus where they established a community that exists to this day. This was the first wave of Maronite emigrants to leave Lebanon. An estimated fifty thousand Maronites died for the defense of the cross.
  • 1250AD, after the departure of the Crusaders, the Maronites suffered from the violence of the Mamelukes from Egypt, which they became masters. The Mamelukes, before and after the departure of the Crusaders, led many murderous raids against the Maronites. The Mamelukes waged wars and group massacres. Those who escaped the massacre were deported: the Nosaïris to the Akkar, the Druzes to the Chouf and the Shiites to the South. The vacuum thus created in the Kesrouan allowed the Maronites to settle there without disturbing the Mamelukes. This is how the Maronite population expansion gradually reached the entire mountain.
  • 1516AD, the Ottoman rule over Lebanon began with Sultan Selim the First, called the Cruel who in two years had conquered Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, and brought no change to the feudal structure or social organization of Mount Lebanon. His successor Soleiman the Magnificent, confirmed the right of the Maronites to manage their own affairs and their Patriarch was the only one not subject to the obligation to see his investiture confirmed by the Sultan.
  • 1860AD, the Turks disarmed the Christians and encouraged the Druze to massacre them. At least ten thousand Maronites died. During Pope Gregory’s reign, The Maronite School of Rome was built in 1584. This school was concerned with the development of the Maronite clergy who played an important role in the evolution of the Lebanese society.
  • 1610AD, the clergymen introduced the first printing plant of the East and installed it in the convent of Kozhaya. The Maronite School of Rome also gave forty bishops, of whom twelve were patriarchs. The most famous, Patriarch Douaihy was the first historian of his church. In addition, the school, enabled the Maronites to emerge from their intellectual isolation and to be in permanent contact with Western thought, while waiting to be the main architects of the revival of Arabic language and literature  

  • 1305AD, the demographic expansion of the Maronites began in Kesrouan following the massacre and deportation of its Shiite, Druze and Nosai population by the Mamelukes, and continued towards the Metn and the Chouf. This migration has led the Maronites to cohabit with other communities and to experience cultural and religious diversity. As tensions existed between Sunnis, Shiites and Druze, the Maronites were led to play mediators and interpose themselves among themselves.
  • 1831AD, a meeting was held at Mar Elias church-Antelias of the Druze, Sunni, Maronite and Shiite representatives. They took the oath to fight together against Ibrahim Pasha who had just invaded Lebanon at the head of an Egyptian army. They succeeded in repelling him. With them, fought a seventeen-year-old Maronite, Youssef Beyk Karam, who later became famous in his struggle against the Ottomans.
  • 1918AD, all the Lebanese communities asked Patriarch Hoayek to represent them at the Versailles conference and to demand the independence of Lebanon. Read more

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