|The Christian roots of the Maronites reach into Apostolic
time and come form an area between Antioch and Edessa that resisted, for
the most part, the influence of Hellenization, thereby retaining the
ancient Semitic thought forms in culture, politics, language, and
liturgical expression. However, the Maronite Church did retain the
Antiochean structure of the liturgy.
The name "Maronite" comes from a priest-hermit by the name of Maron (d. 410 AD) in the region of Apamea along the Orontes River, which is in present day Syria. When he died, his disciples built a church, then a monastery. This "Monastery of St. Maron" grew large and influential, and branched out. This group of monasteries stood as staunch defenders of the Council of Chalcedon. Those who came under their direction came to referred to as Maronites.
Maronite evangelization and influence spread east toward the Euphrates, north to Antioch, west to Cyprus, and South to Lebanon. It was this last evangelical front which became a refuge for Maronites during terrible persecutions, especially from the seventh century on. In the late seventh century the See (seat) of Antioch became vacant due to political turmoil and persecutions. A Maronite bishop, St. John Maron, was elected as Patriarch by bishops affiliated with the monastery of St. Maron. He moved the patriarchal see to Lebanon. Henceforth, the Maronites would shape the culture and history of Lebanon and its surrounding areas.
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