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Feast of St. Maron

Lebanon National Holiday in Lebanon

Saint Maron, whose Feast Day is a public holiday in Lebanon on 9 February

When is the Feast Day of St. Maron?

This holiday is always celebrated on 9 February, the Feast day of Saint Maron.

History of the Feast Day of St. Maron

All that we know about Maron, the spiritual father of the Maronites comes from Theodoret, the bishop of Cyr. In approximately 444 AD, Theodoret undertook the project of writing a religious history about his religion. Theodoret never knew Maron personally, but only through the disciples of this holy man. He described Maron as "the one who has planted for God the garden which flourishes now in the region of Cyr." Little is known of the birth or youth of Maron because Theodoret was unconcerned about that aspect of his life. He felt that Maron was a man born not for this world, but for heaven. In his description of the beginning of Maron's life, Theodoret assests that Maron had "already increased the number of saints in heaven."

According to history, Maron was never satisfied with the ordinary practices of asceticism, but was "always seeking for new ways to accumulate all the treasures of wisdom." Maron was the spiritual leader not only of the hermits who lived near him, but of all the Christian faithful in the area. He used to counsel them, heal their bodily and spiritual ills. All of these apostolic endeavors manifested wisdom and holiness of the hermit Maron.

Some hold the opinion that Maron and John Chrysostom studied together at Antioch before 398 and that the famous letter sent by John Chrysostom was indeed sent to this hermit Maron and not to some other anchorite with the same name. If the monk referred to in this letter is from the region of Cyr, it is indeed our spiritual father, Maron.

The date of Maron's death is placed somewhere between 407 and 423. Because of his great popularity among the people, riots broke out at the time of his death because everyone wanted to save his remains in their village.

The Maronite Church formerly celebrated the feast of this great saint on January 5th. (This is the day in which the church of Kfarhai was consecrated in his honor.) However, in the seventeenth century, the feast was transferred to February 9th. Lebanon has proclaimed Maron as its patron saint and Pope Benedict XIV granted a plenary indulgence to everyone who visited a Maronite Chruch on February 9th.

The gospel tells us that a tree is known by its fruits and we know from Theodoret that the garden of Maron flouished after his death. One is able to number approximately twenty saints among Maron's disciples, three whom were women. Theodoret describes these disciples of Maron with these words: "These anchorites were virtuous and heroic, totally dedicated to a life of contemplative prayer. They were strangers to any other consideration in the world. They were obedient to Church authority and tried to imitate their predecessor in their exercises of austerity. At times, their acts of penance and mortification were excessive, but they were always obedient to ecclesiastical authority."

After the Council of Chalcedon, Bishop Theodoret worked to construct the famous Monastery of Saint Maron. In addition to being a stronghold for the defense of the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon, this monastery was for a long time the center of the cultural and theological heritage of Antioch.


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