Father of the Maronite Rite
Maron, also called Maroun or Maro, was a 4th-century Syriac Christian hermit monk in the Taurus Mountains whose followers, after his death, founded a religious Christian movement that became known as the Syriac Maronite Church, in full communion with the Holy See and the Catholic Church. The religious community which grew from this movement are the modern Maronites.
Saint Maron is often portrayed in a black monastic habit with a hanging stole, accompanied by a long crosier staffed by a globe surmounted with a cross. His feast day in the Maronite Church is February 9.
Maron, born in what is now modern Syria, in the middle of the 4th century, was a priest who later became a hermit, retiring to the Taurus Mountains in the region of Cyrus, near Antioch. His holiness and miracles attracted many followers, and drew attention throughout the empire. John Chrysostom wrote to him around AD 405 expressing his great love and respect, and asking Maron to pray for him. Maron and Chrysostom 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.
Maron embraced a life of quiet solitude in the mountains north-west of Aleppo. He was known for his simplicity and his extraordinary desire to discover God’s presence in all things.
Maron is considered the Father of the spiritual and monastic movement now called the Maronite Church.
Maron's way was deeply monastic with emphasis on the spiritual and ascetic aspects of living. For Maron, all was connected to God and God was connected to all. He did not separate the physical and spiritual world and actually used the physical world to deepen his faith and spiritual experience with God. He was able to free himself from the physical world by his passion and fervour for prayer and enter into a mystical relationship of love with God.
He lived his life in the open air next to a temple he had transformed to a church. He spent his time in prayer and meditation exposed to the forces of nature such as sun, rain, hail and snow. Theodoret of Cyrrhus wrote that this was a new type of asceticism that soon enjoyed wide acceptance in Syria and Lebanon. His Religious History, written about 440, mentions fifteen men and three women who followed this practice, many of them trained or guided by Maron.