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The Maronites of Aleppo: between the greatness of St. Maron and the tragedy of the Syrian war


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Elias Turk - published on 02/09/18

For the feast of Saint Maron, we offer you an overview of this saint and his flock

The Feast of Saint Maron

On February 9 every year, the Maronite Church celebrates the feast of its father and founder, Saint Maron. This feast is also a national holiday in Lebanon, where the Patriarchal See of the Maronite Church is located. Consequently, the Patriarch, the bishops, and all the priests of the Maronite Church spread throughout the world celebrate this feast with great solemnity.

This feast also has particular importance for all Eastern Churches, which have been rooted in the Middle East since the first century A.D. and which honor their saints in a special way.

In addition, the feast of Saint Maron has begun to have particular importance for the Maronites of Aleppo, where the Maronite Diocese of Aleppo demonstrated in 2004, with a historical investigation, that Saint Maron was buried in the Cathedral of Barad, north of Aleppo. Today only ruins of the cathedral remain.

The Cathedral of Barad

Barad is a village 40 km (25 miles) north of Aleppo, and most of its inhabitants are members of the Kurdish community. According to the historical investigation carried out by the Maronite Diocese of Aleppo, Saint Maron was buried in the cathedral of that town in the 5th century AD. In 2004, the Maronite diocese published a booklet in Arabic titled “Saint Maron: throwing light on his life, his hermitage, and his burial,” which talks about these historical events. These historical studies establish that Saint Maron lived in the fort of Calota, 3km (2 miles) from Barad as the crow flies.

However, the political crises which have continuously afflicted the region throughout history resulted in the disappearance of Saint Maron’s body and the destruction of the cathedral. Today, some relics of Saint Maron are found in the Cathedral of Saint Felician in Foligno, Italy, whereas in 1999 another part of his relics was reported to be in Lebanon, at the convent of Saint Maron in Kfarhi.

Maronites and the agony of the Syrian conflict

Syrian Maronites suffer today, the same as all other Christian and non-Christian inhabitants of Syria, due to the conflict which has been without a solution since 2011. Amidst emigration, displacement, and difficult human and economic conditions, they daily face a continuous fight to survive.

Now that the Syrian war has entered a new stage with the Turkish military operation against Afrin, controlled by the Kurds, we raise our prayers to God for the Syrian people and for persecuted Christians, on this feast of Saint Maron who, 15 centuries ago, placed the cornerstone for a Church which is now spread throughout the world.


This article is translated and adapted from Aleteia’s Arabic edition.

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