St. John Maron, First Patriarch of The Maronite Church (in union with Rome)
Also known as John the Sarumite
Born: 628 in Sarmin
Died: 09 Mar 707 at Batroun, Lebanon
Feast: 02 Mar (Maronite calendar) Formerly 09 Feb.
John Maron (the Maron was his own addition) was a Syriac monk who became the first patriarch of the Maronite Church. This is not a denomination but one of the rites of the Catholic Church. (There are about 20 rites in the Catholic Church. The vast majority belong to the Latin Rite.) The Maronites are in union with the Vatican but have their own liturgy.
John was born in 628 in the town of Sarmin which is located in modern-day Syria, a bit to the south of Antioch. (Sarmin is also known as Sirmaniyah and Sarum.) His father was Agathon who was the governor of the region and his mother was Anohamia. Alidipas, his paternal grandfather, was the nephew of Carloman, a Frankish prince, and was the governor of Antioch.
John studied Greek and patrology (the writings of the early Church Fathers) in Constantinople. After his studies were complete he returned home where he wrote on topics such as teaching, rhetoric, the sacraments, management of Church property, legislative techniques, and liturgy. He also wrote the Eucharistic prayer which bears his name. He also wrote and preached against the Monophysite heresy.
In 609 Anastasius II, the Patriarch of Antioch was martyred. As a result of an ongoing war and general unrest, Constantinople appointed a series of patriarchs. John received his appointment in 685 and was approved by Pope Sergius I. The See of Antioch was founded by St. Peter before he went to Rome. John Maron was his 63rd successor.
Byzantine emperor Justinian II who was angry that he was not consulted over John’s appointment, combined with the Muslim conquest, forced John and his followers to flee to Lebanon. The Patriarchal Seat was transferred there and a monastery (Rich Mro or “Head of Maron”) was built. It housed the head of St. Maron, a 4th century Syriac Christian monk.
John died in Batroun, Lebanon on 09 Mar 707 of natural causes. He was buried in the monastery of Reesh Moran in Kfarhy in Lebanon.
Text © 2018 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.
Image of St. John Maron is in the public domain.