Iglesia Maronita.


The hermit Maron (Maroon) lived on a mountain in

the region of Apamea (Aphamiah) the actual Qal’at Al-

Modiq, capital of Syria Secunda. His biographer, Theodoret,

bishop of Cyr (d. 458), says that he pursued a life

of prayer and that he had consecrated a pagan temple as

a church (Religiosa Historia 16, 21; Patrologia Graeca

82:1418–31). Later historians (see P. Dib, Histoire . . .

4) place his death in 410. The group of disciples who

gathered around Maron during his lifetime and, after his

death, around the monastery erected to his memory

formed the nucleus of the Maronite Church.


Monastery of St. Maron. This was located on the

banks of the Orontes in northern Syria and, according to the Arabic historian Ma’soudi [Livre de l’avertissement,

et de la révision (Kita¯b at-Tanb¯ıh Wal-Ischra¯f), ed. M.

J. de Goeje, in Bibliotheca geographorum arabicorum,

v. 8 (Leiden 1894) 153], by the tenth century was of considerable

size and wealth, a necessary stop on the imperial

road from Antioch to Damascus.

During the early sixth century, the Maronite monks

were foremost among the defenders of the doctrine of

CHALCEDON, in defense of which 350 monks were slain

and many monasteries burned by the MONOPHYSITES.

(They are commemorated by the Maronite Church on

July 31.) This is known by a memorandum sent to Pope

Hormisdas by the monks of Syria Secunda and signed by

Alexander, archimandrite of St. Maron (dated 517; J. D.

Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio,

31 v. [Paris 1889–1927; repr. Graz 1960— ]

8:425–429, 1023–30). The pope replied on Feb. 10, 518.

Papal recognition of the Maronites is revealed in these

documents, which also make it clear that the grand monastery

of St. Maron was foremost among the monasteries

of Syria Secunda and that together they formed a cohesive


The grand monastery was enlarged during the time

of the Emperor Marcian (452) and under Justinian I. Until

the mid-seventh century, the monastery of St. Maron was

the stronghold of the Chalcedonians and the center of

missionary activity in northern Syria. The preaching

monks traveled about the villages, calling for a spiritual

renewal and strengthening the faith of the people who

often came to them for guidance. The attempted suppression

of the Chalcedonians by civil and religious authorities

served to strengthen the unity between the Maronite

monks and their lay followers. This was further strengthened

by the use of the Syriac language in the liturgy for

this was the language of the people in the villages outside

of the larger cities. On the eve of the formation of the

Maronite patriarchate, the monachal way of life had

shaped Maronite society. The heads of the monasteries were usually invested with the episcopal character, and

the people of the surrounding area were under the direct

jurisdiction of the monasteries. Over a period of time, the

religious life of the people was shaped by monachal customs

and traditions. This became an important and an enduring

characteristic of the Maronite Church, and its

canon law and church government still bear the marks of

this influence. The jurisdiction and power of the Maronite

patriarchs through the centuries have their origin and

meaning in the power and jurisdiction given to the superior

of St. Maron’s Monastery. This monastic origin explains

the influence, to the present day, of the patriarch

in civil and religious matters, making him in fact an actual

leader of his people who often acts as the representative

of the whole Maronite ‘‘nation.’’


Constitution of the Maronite patriarchate and the

monothelite controversy in Syria. Patriarch Anastasius

II, the last Chalcedonian patriarch to reside in Antioch,

was killed in 609. Titular patriarchs of Antioch were appointed

by Constantinople until 702, but after that the see

remained vacant until 742, when the caliph Hisham allowed

the elected patriarch, Stephen III, to take possession

(see C. Karalevski, Dictionnaire d’histoire et de

géographie ecclésiastiques, [Paris 1912— ] 3:563–703).

During the vacancy, the Chalcedonian group was leaderless

and the Maronite patriarchate was formed. Maronite

monks had elected a bishop from their monastery before

745. See La Chronique de Michel le Syrien ou le Grand

(1166–1199), ed. J. B. Chabot (1899–1910) 2:511; this

text lends solid proof to the Maronite tradition that the patriarchate

had been established in the last years of the seventh

century. [See Al-Douaihi, Chronology of the

Maronite Patriarch, ed. Shartooni (Rashid, Beirut 1902);

Le Quien, Oriens Christianus, v. 3; P. Chebli, Biographie

du Patriarche Étienne Douaihi (Beirut 1913) 210]. Maronite

sources place the election of the first Maronite patriarch,

St. John Maron, in 685.

With the Antiochene see vacant, the Maronite monks

realized the need for a leader and elected a bishop from

their monastery to fill the vacant see. The election was

certainly canonical; had it not been so, the Holy See

would have condemned it as it did in the case of Macedonius,

patriarch of Constantinople in 649 (J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum

Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, 31 v.

[Paris 1889–1927; repr. Graz 1960— 10:811). All available

documents indicate that the Maronite patriarchs

from the beginning held the title of ‘‘Antioch’’ (e.g., a

document from the year 1141 in J. A. Assemani, Bibliotheca

Orientalis 1:307).

Historically, the Maronites were the staunchest defenders

of the Council of CHALCEDON, although in the

eighth century they had never been informed officially of

the condemnation of MONOTHELITISM at the Council of

Constantinople in 680 (see Dib, Histoire . . . , 40). The

annals of Eutyches (Sa’Id Ibn Batriq), Monophysite patriarch

of Alexandria (933–940), contain many erroneous

passages concerning the origin of the Maronites, including

the actual dating of the life of St. Maron and the date

of the Monothelite heresy itself. Unfortunately, Eutyches

misled many later writers, such as William of Tyre, the

standard authority on the Crusades (Historia Rerum in

Partibus Transmarinis Gestarum; Patrologia Latina,

217 v. [Paris 1878–90] 201:855–856). William attributes

Monothelitism to the Maronites and St. Maron and says

that at the sight of the Crusaders they were divinely inspired

to reject their ancient heresy and to enter the Catholic

Church with their patriarch and bishops. Specifically

citing Eutyches as his source, William merely repeats his

errors (ibid.).

The position of the Maronites on the question of the

two wills in Christ is best understood against the background

of the circumstances in Syria at that time. On the

eve of the Arab invasion, the Byzantine emperors were

attempting to unify their subjects by offering a compromise

acceptable to both Chalcedonians and Monophysites,

founded in the duality of nature in Christ and the

oneness of will. This doctrine was published in the Ecthesis

(638) and displeased both parties. Some Chalcedonians

had appealed to the pope, and although the pope had

approved the project of the Ecthesis, the Ecumenical

Council of Constantinople (680) condemned Pope Honorius

and Patriarch Sergius and their Monothelite followers, without, however, any mention of the Maronites. The

position of the Maronite party concerning the issue remained

as it was prior to the council as the Maronites had

not been informed of the council’s actions. They learned

of the council only through prisoners of war captured by

the Arabs. The oldest Maronite documents prove that, in

spite of a material Monothelitism, the Maronites believed

that in Christ, ontologically speaking, there are two wills

(see Dib, Histoire . . . , 30). When speaking of one will

in Christ, they mean one practical will, which is equivalent

to action in the terminology used by Bishop Thomas

Kephartab [Ten Chapters, manuscript Syr. 203, fol. 21,

v. 31, dated 1089; Metropolitan David, Kita¯b al-Huda¯,

or Book of Guidance, 1059, ed. P. Fahed (Aleppo 1935)

44–48]. All of these texts stress the unity of action in

Christ in that it is not possible to contemplate two opposing

wills in Him. What was regarded as heresy was merely

controversy over semantics.

The Maronites, under persecution by the caliphates

of Damascus and Baghdad aided by the Maximites,

began some time in the early eighth century to seek refuge

from Muslim attacks in the inaccessible mountains

of Lebanon, cut off from all contact with both old and

new Rome.


Early middle ages. The juridical literature of the

Maronite Church of the Middle Ages has been reduced

to the compilation of the NOMOCANON known as Kita¯b

al-Huda¯ (Book of Guidance). The only copies available

are written in Karshuni (Arabic written in Syriac characters).

P. Fahed edited Kita¯b al-Huda¯ at Aleppo in 1935,

giving all the variant readings of the text in footnotes.

The Nomocanon is prefaced by a letter written by the

priest monk Joseph, dated from 1058 to 1059, asking

Metropolitan David to translate the canons into Arabic.

The book is composed of two sections. The first 13 chapters

treat doctrine, morality, and liturgy. Chapters 14 to

57 reproduce previous juridical sources.


The Maronites in Lebanon: First contact with

Rome through the crusades. It is apparent from a study

of the text of the Arab historian Mas’oudi (d. 956) that

before the first half of the tenth century the bulk of the

Maronites had left northern Syria. The first Maronite

Church in the mountains of Lebanon was established

around 749. Safeguarded by the mountains, they organized

a feudal system of government under the combined

leadership of clergy and nobility. The patriarch appears

to have been the supreme head in religious and civil matters,

aided by bishops who acted as his vicars.

When the crusaders journeyed along the Levantine

coast en route to Jerusalem, the Maronites greeted them

as natural allies and close relations grew from the first.

The Maronites occupied the first place after the Franks

[see Ristelhueber, Les Traditions françaises au Liban

(Paris 1925) 58]. The CRUSADES made possible the first

contact of the Maronites as an independent Church with

the Holy See. The last communication had been the reply

of Pope Hormisdas to the Maronite monks in 518; since

then the Muslim tide had inundated all of Syria and half

of Asia Minor, and the eleventh century had witnessed

the Great Schism between East and West. The sixthcentury

persecution of the Maronites had faded from the

memory of the West, and it considered the entire East as

either heretic or dissident. The so-called return of the

Maronites, which took place in Tripoli (1180–81) and

was reported by William of Tyre (op. cit., Patrologia Latina,

217 v. [Paris 1878–90] 201:855–856), was apparently

a profession of faith in recognition of the

jurisdiction of Alexander III against an antipope. It seems

highly unlikely that any church would, as a unit, leave the

unity of the Catholic Church and return to it without any

member remaining in heresy; it seems even stranger for

the Maronites, after their cordial reception of the crusaders,

to delay a century to make the so-called return, especially

during a period when the Frankish Empire was

divided from within and on the very eve of disaster.

Jeremias Al-Amshitti (1199–1230), who personally

attended the Lateran Council (1215), was the first Maronite

patriarch to visit Rome and take part in an ecumenical

council. He returned to Lebanon in 1216 and received

the bull Quia Divinae Sapientiae, signed by Innocent III,

and the pallium. The Maronites began to strengthen their

ties with the Holy See, remaining steadfast despite the

persecutions suffered after the departure of the crusaders.

The Latinizing of the Maronites began during this period.


Period of the crusades (1098–1291). There is a lack

of documents concerning the juridical and ecclesiastical

life of the Maronites in these times because members of

the Maronite hierarchy, especially the patriarch, were the

targets of persecution by the civil authorities. The patriarch

lived in hiding. Many times he was discovered and

jailed. Consequently the only documents that refer to the

existence and activity of a few patriarchs of the eleventh

and twelfth centuries are contained in notes found on the

marginal spaces of certain manuscripts. The principal

documents concerning the relations of the Maronites with

the popes can be found in T. Anaissi’s Bullarium Maronitarum.

This edition is not critical, but it is the only one

in existence. Other documents are found in Anaissi’s Collectio

documentorum Maronitarum. The first part of this

collection relates to a period prior to the relations with the

Holy See, and the second is made up of documents covering

modern times until 1913. These are cataloged according

to numerical order: the Bullarium bears Roman

numerals, and the Collectio, Arabic numerals. This article will refer to these publications by abbreviations: AB

to indicate the Bullarium; AC, the Collectio.


Pope Innocent III. Two bulls of Innocent III concerned

the Maronites (AB 1–2). The first, dated April 18,

1213, convoked the forthcoming ecumenical council

(1215). The second bull, dated January of 1216, was addressed

to Patriarch (or Primate) Jeremias (Al-Amshitti),

to the archbishops and bishops, men of note, clergy, and

Maronite people. This bull enumerated a few points of

doctrine and discipline that the Holy See wished to introduce

into the Maronite Church: in the triple baptismal immersion,

the Holy Trinity should be invoked only once;

confirmation should be conferred only by the bishop, and

Holy Chrism should be made of balm and oil; the faithful

should go to confession once a year to their own priests

and receive Holy Communion three times; there are two

wills in Christ; chalices should not be made of glass or

wood but only of gold, silver, or tin; and the churches

should have bells.

In the Eastern Christian tradition, priests had had the

power to confirm. Holy Chrism was made of various aromatic

substances. In spite of the recommendation made

to the Maronites to go to Confession and Communion

once a year, it was not evident that this was not the practice

among the Maronites. The notion of a proper pastor

was not known in oriental canon law. Bells were not used

in the East; instead the custom was to use a mallet on a

wooden or iron board to announce the time of prayer.

The bull imposed on the Maronite bishops the use of

the Latin vestments and enumerated the Maronite sees,

two archbishoprics and three bishoprics. Jeremias Al-

Amshitti (1199–1230) was granted the pallium, but with

the stipulation that it was to be given to him by the Latin

patriarch of Antioch. It extended the privilege of the

canon (decreed by canon 15 of the Lateran Council,

1135) to the Maronites, but the patriarch was given the

power of lifting the excommunication incurred by the violation

of this privilege. It is noteworthy that the pope,

while granting all these concessions, recognized the validity

of customs and laws approved by the patriarch and

his predecessors in the Church of Antioch. This bull, in

spite of its expression of the benevolent attitude of the

pope, constituted the first attempt at Latinization of Maronite

canon law.

Pope Alexander IV. The same prescriptions of Innocent

III were sent by Alexander IV (1254–64) in 1256 to

Patriarch Simon (1245–77). In this bull the pope limited

the power of the patriarch to absolve the censure incurred

by violation of the privilege of the canon. Each case had

to be referred to Rome (AB 3–4). These attempts at Latinization

encountered partial success in the Maronite

Church; however, it seems that the Maronite Church followed

the practice of the Latin Church only in certain

prescriptions. In making Holy Chrism it started to use

only oil and balm; in the consecration of a bishop, the imposition

of the miter was introduced. Certain ordinations

were modeled after the Latin Pontifical. It is to be noted

that none of these bulls of Innocent III and Alexander IV

prescribed the use of the unleavened bread. Rather they

expressed a general invitation to conform the liturgical

usages of the Maronite Church to those of the Church of


Some of the Crusaders, after their defeat and the fall

of their Syrian Empire, took refuge among the Maronites

and were warmly welcomed by Patriarch Simon, who received

a letter of thanks from Pope Alexander IV, addressing

him as ‘‘Maronite Patriarch of Antioch.’’

Benedict XIV confirmed the title in 1744.

The Mamelukes tightened their watch on the Levantine

coast after the departure of the crusaders in order to

prevent a return; this rendered contact with the Holy See

extremely difficult. Pontifical emissaries were sent to the

Maronites during the fifteenth century, and under the

government of the Moogaddameen they enjoyed a semiindependent

political life.


Mamelukes (1291–1516). The Mamelukes were

slaves of the Turks brought by the sultans of Egypt to be

officers in their army. One of them succeeded in taking

over the sultanate, becoming the first of a long line. The

last Mameluke sultan was put to death by Salim I, the sultan

of Constantinople, in 1517. The Mamelukes practiced

a policy of devastation and destruction in order to impede

the return of the crusaders. Thus the cities on the Lebanese

coast were sacked and destroyed. The Maronites of

this period lived in isolation and enjoyed an autonomous

political life. This strengthened the judicial power of the

patriarch and bishops over their subjects. The Book of

Guidance, or Kita¯b al-Huda¯, became insufficient to guide

them in their new role. The Maronites then adopted the

Collection of Canons of the Coptic Ibn Al-’Assa¯l, whose

second book treats the private law of Christians. A critical

edition of this Nomocanon was published at Cairo,

Egypt, in 1900 by Philouthaous ’Awad.

The relations of the Maronite patriarchate with the

Holy See were interrupted because of the watching eye

of the Mamelukes, who had occupied all the sea coast of

Lebanon. During this period, the Maronites were grouped

in the northern part of Lebanon in the regions of Batroom,

Jobail, Ehden, and Besharree. Some of them had

taken refuge on the islands of Rhodes and Cyprus, where

their community was prosperous at the time of the Lusiganans


In spite of the new prescriptions that Innocent III and

Alexander IV introduced, and which the Maronites partially followed, it seems that the discipline and the liturgy

of the Maronite Church kept its oriental physiognomy. It

is probable that the Maronites at that time took back some

of the oriental customs that they had somewhat abandoned

at the time of the crusades. The danger of Latinization

became less imminent because of the interruption of

communication with Rome and the West.

Relations with the Holy See were reestablished during

the reign of Patriarch John Al-Jaji (1404–45), who

sent his profession of faith to Pope Eugene IV. The pope

answered in general terms (AB 6). Another bull of Pope

Eugene IV, dated Aug. 7, 1445 (AB 7), contained the following

disciplinary prescription: the dough to make the

Eucharistic bread should not be mixed with oil; the patriarch

should replace Maronite liturgical and disciplinary

custom with those of the Latin Church. It was after the

Maronites abided by these prescriptions that the power

was granted to Maronite bishops to excommunicate and

absolve in the external forum, both clergy and faithful of

the Maronite Church. This was the first time Rome asserted

officially, although indirectly, the personal jurisdiction

of the Maronite bishops. At the same time, the Maronite

clergy were allowed to celebrate Mass in Latin churches

and the Latin clergy to celebrate Mass in Maronite

churches. Maronite clergy and laity were allowed to be

buried from a Latin church. They were allowed to marry

Latins, but the ceremony of marriage was to be held in

the liturgical rite of the Latin Church.

Pope Paul II was the first pope to mention the title

of Antioch used by the Maronite patriarch (Patriarchae

Maronitarum Antiochaeno nuncupato). The bull is dated

1469 (AB 11). During the thirteenth century, the title of

Antioch had been given only to the Latin patriarch; but

when the crusaders left Syria, the title of patriarch of Antioch

was given to a prelate who resided in Rome. During

the sixteenth century, the general principle of unity of jurisdiction

was abandoned; however, some popes addressed

the Maronite patriarchs as patriarch of the

Maronites; and others, for example, Pius IV, as patriarch

or primate. Paul V, in his bull of 1608, was the first to

address Joseph Al-Reezzee as Patriarchae Maronitarum

Antiocheni (AB 55). In the four bulls addressed to his

successor, John Makhloof, the same title was used, as it

was in all other bulls that followed.

In August of 1515 Pope Leo X answered a letter

from Patriarch Simon and told him that his profession of

faith did not contain the FILIOQUE (the procession of the

Holy Spirit from the Father and Son) and that the rule

prescribed once to Patriarch Jeremias in the making of

Holy Chrism was not observed. He indicated also that the

Maronites should go once a year to confession and Communion.

Pope Leo finally confirmed Simon in his dignity

as patriarch of the Maronites and granted him the pallium.


Turkish domination. The period that followed was

marked by the conquest of Syria and Cyprus by the Ottoman

Turks under Salim I and by the rise to power in Lebanon

of the Ma’nee family (1516–1697). It was marked

religiously by the Catholic renewal of the Church through

the Council of Trent and the introduction of its decisions

into the Maronite canon law.


Modern times: 1515–1918. The Turks, under Sultan

Salim I, in 1516 conquered all of Syria, Lebanon, and

Egypt; in 1527 the patriarch, offering the aid of 50,000

troops, unsuccessfully asked Charles V, the Holy Roman

Emperor, for aid in liberating the land [Rabbath, Documents

inédits pour servir à l’histoire du Christianisme en

Orient, v. 2 (Paris, Leipzig 1905–21) 616–623]. In 1562

Pius IV urged Patriarch Moses to follow the Roman Rite

in the administration of the Sacraments and prescribed

that the Maronite patriarchs should, thenceforth, after

their elections, send with the letter of obedience a profession

of faith (AC 32). In the last years of the sixteenth

century, the Holy See sent three missions to the Maronites;

at the suggestion of the papal legates, the Maronite

patriarchs held three synods (1580, 1596, and 1598).

It was under the reigns of the three patriarchs of the

Al-Reezzee family that the decrees of Trent were introduced

into the Maronite Church through the successive

missions sent by the pope to Lebanon. Michael Al-

Reezzee was elected patriarch in 1567. Ten years later he

sent emissaries to Rome to present his profession of faith

(AC 42). Gregory XIII answered on Feb. 14, 1578 (AB

33), reminding the patriarch of the reforms that the popes

wanted to introduce into the Maronite Church. It was the

old request: the phrase ‘‘who was crucified for us’’ was

to be suppressed from the Trisagion; Holy Chrism was

to be made in the Latin style; conferring of Confirmation

was to be reserved to the bishops; Holy Communion was

not to be given to little children; and the Latin impediments

to marriage of consanguinity and affinity were to

be adopted.

Synods. John Baptist Eliano and John Bruno were

pontifical legates to Lebanon when a synod was held at

Qannoobeen from Aug. 15 to 18, 1580. The delegates had

prepared a slightly modified text of the decrees. The first

nine chapters treated dogma and the Sacraments; these

were inspired principally by the Council of Florence with

a few additional canons concerning the situation of the

Maronites. The reform proposed by Gregory XIII was

taken into consideration; but relative to the marriage impediments,

only the complicated impediment of affinity

was suppressed. Chapter 10 treated discipline and was inspired

mainly by the Council of Trent. These decrees remained ‘‘dead letters’’ because it was practically

impossible to change well-established customs among

the Maronites.

Pope Gregory XIII in his brief Humana Sic Ferunt

(1584) erected the Maronite College in Rome, under the

Jesuit Fathers. This institution played an important role

in the Maronite Church and in fostering oriental studies

in the West. GABRIEL SIONITA (1577–1648), biblical

scholar and linguist, ABRAHAM ECCHELLENSIS (d. 1644),

and Joseph Simon ASSEMANI (1687–1768), famous orientalist

and custodian of the Vatican Library, are among

its most famous students.

In 1584 Gregory XIII erected a college for the Maronite

students in Rome and gave its direction to the Jesuits

(AB 43–45; AC 55). The next pontifical delegation sent

to the Maronites was headed by Jerome Dandini, SJ, who

was accompanied by Father Fabio Bruno. Both delegates

brought with them 200 copies of the new Missal (strongly

Latinized) edited in Rome in 1592. Not knowing the oriental

languages, they used as interpreters some Maronite

students of the Roman college. The first session was held

from Sept. 22 to 28, 1596, and decreed 21 canons. In

comparison with the legislation of 1580, this one was

fragmentary and lacked systematization; conferring Confirmation

was definitely reserved to the bishops and the

use of the new Maronite Missal was imposed; Communion

under both species was still allowed; and the use of

the unleavened bread was imposed. There is no record

that this synod was ever approved by Rome. After the

death of Patriarch Michael, his nephew Joseph was elected

on Nov. 13, 1596. The new patriarch promulgated six

canons that encouraged the celibacy of the secular clergy.

They decreed also that monasteries and convents be

under separate administration.

Patriarch Joseph Al-Reezzee held a new synod at the

village of Da’yat Moossa in 1598, which decreed 31 canons.

The major part of these canons treated the Sacraments

and repeated the prescriptions of 1580 and 1596.

Another canon reduced the time of the three periods of

fasting used in the East. The acts of this synod were not

sent to Rome.

Clement VIII sent a letter to Patriarch Joseph, dated

Aug. 17, 1599 (AB 52), in which he defined the extent

of the Latin impediments of consanguinity, affinity, spiritual

relationship, public propriety, and crime, and he

asked the patriarch to introduce them into Maronite

canon law, granting the patriarch broad faculties of dispensation.

Patriarch Joseph tried in 1606 to impose the

Gregorian calendar on the Maronite Church. He succeeded

in Lebanon but failed in Cyprus. The other reforms

were not accepted or enforced. These synods did

not treat the organization of the hierarchy. As before, the

bishops remained as delegates of the patriarch and not

residential prelates.

After his election in 1644, Patriarch Joseph Al-

Aqoori called a synod in Hrash. The canons of this synod

were divided into 7 sections: Baptism, 6 canons; Confirmation,

6; marriage, 22; priesthood, 7; Extreme Unction,

3; inheritance, 3; and commandments of the Church, 6.

The complicated way of computing the impediment of affinity

was taken back along with the marriage impediments;

the reduction of the three fasting seasons was

maintained. There is no record of any other synods held

in the seventeenth century.

The later half of the seventeenth century saw an era

of religious toleration during which monasteries multiplied

and many European missions were established.

Under the reign of Patriarch Al-Douaihi, the Maronite

Order of St. Anthony was established (1700; see ANTONINES),

along with the Antonine Order of St. Isaias



From 1697 to 1841. A number of canonical collections

were made in the early eighteenth century. Simon

Awad, nephew of the patriarch James Awad, in collaboration

with Joseph Assemanni, edited a collection in four

parts: the number and authority of the patriarchs, their relationship

with the Holy See and with the bishops, and

the list of the patriarchs of the four great sees. Peter

Toulawi, a Maronite priest, translated (c. 1720) the acts

of the Council of Trent with its history and added to it

the decisions of the two Maronite synods of 1596, underscoring

their relationship with the Council of Trent. Abdulla

Qara¯’a¯li (1716–42) wrote a resume of civil law

based on the ancient oriental canons, but it also contained

some Muslim jurisprudence. This resume was divided

into 31 chapters. Qara¯’a¯li also wrote a manual of civil law

in the form of questions and answers entitled Al-Fatawui

or Pandectes. Both books were inspired by Ibn Al-’Assa¯l.

Synod of Mt. Lebanon. In July of 1734 Patriarch Joseph

Al Khazen, with his bishops, requested the Holy See

to send them an apostolic visitor in order to help them reform

their Church. They suggested the name of Joseph

Simon Assemani, who was prefect of the Vatican Library.

Assemani was sent by the pope as his personal legate

to call a synod of the Maronite hierarchy and to take

part in it with the right to vote (AB 111–114).

Assemani prepared, in Latin, a wide project of canons

to be adopted by the future synod. He had the Maronite

priest Andrew Scandar translate it into Arabic

(Vatican Manuscript Syr. 399, in Karshuni). It was the

work of a scholar, containing learned dissertations inspired

by Eastern and Western sources, for example, the

Trent legislation and that of the 1720 Synod of Zamost.

Assemani also used the correspondence of popes and patriarchs

and the acts of the 1596 Synod of Qannoobeen.

Reference was made to the Book of Guidance and to the

Nomocanon of the priest George.

The synod was opened at Ryfoon on Sept. 14, 1736;

but because of dissensions, the patriarch left the assembly

the following day. The synod then moved to Louaizee on

September 30 of the same year and remained in session

until October 2. Before the assembly adopted any canons,

Assemani had to modify his project in many ways. The

canons of this synod marked the ratification of liturgical

and canonical Latinization that the Holy See had tried to

introduce into the Maronite Church since the time of the

crusades. The first part treated faith, feast days, and fasting;

the reduction of the three seasons of fast was definitively

approved; the compilation of collections of civil

and canon law for use in the diocesan tribunals was decreed;

and a decision was made to revise all liturgical

books. The second part treated the Sacraments: most of

the marriage legislation of the Latin canon law was accepted;

the use of the unleavened bread was imposed; for

the forms of Baptism, Confirmation, and Extreme Unction

both Latin and oriental formulas were accepted, but

for the form of absolution only the Latin formula was tolerated;

finally, that part of the ritual of Al-Douaihi dealing

with ordination was accepted. The third part dealt

with the hierarchical organization: bishops became true

hierarchs of eparchies; rights of the patriarch were made

precise and limited; he was to be elected by bishops only

and through secret ballot; election by acclamation was

valid only when there was unanimity; he was answerable

only to the pope; and the number of eparchies was limited

to eight, with their limits drawn by mutual accord. The

fourth part dealt with the churches, monasteries, convents,

and schools: the obligation of keeping registers in

the parishes was introduced; monasteries and convents

had to be separated; and the constitutions of autonomous

monasteries (which did not join the Lebanese congregation

of the Antonines) were added to the acts of the

synod. At the end of October of 1736, Assemani published

an instruction containing a resume of the essential

prescriptions of the synod concerning secular clergy, laymen,

and churches.

On Sept. 1, 1741, Benedict XIV approved in forma

specifica the Latin text of the decrees of the synod of

1736, after making some 15 minor corrections in it (AB

118–119). In another constitution dated Feb. 14, 1742, he

approved the accord of the Maronite bishops concerning

the eight Maronite eparchies (AB 120). Finally, on Oct.

15, 1742, the pope approved in forma specifica the declarations

of the superiors of the Maronite congregations of

St. Anthony, made in 1737, that their constitutions would

be adjusted to the new legislation of the synod (AB 122).

Because of the scarcity of copies of the synod proceedings

and because of the opposition that it encountered in

many fields, its decrees remained in practice unobserved.

Subsequent Synods. Patriarch Simon Awad and the

Maronite bishops had made a very important decision on

July 19, 1744: In civil matters the bishops had to use the

two works on civil law by Qara¯’a¯li. Benedict XIV, anxious

to see the canons of the Synod of Mt. Lebanon applied,

called this decision to the attention of Patriarch

Simon. Simon called a synod from Nov. 28 to 30, 1755,

which decreed 15 canons; the pontifical prescriptions of

Benedict XIV were renewed and some new prescriptions

were given, and the ritual of Al-Douaihi was to be observed,

not the Book of the Priestly Rites, the work of

Peter Moubarack, a Maronite Jesuit (d. 1742).

Another synod held by Tobias Al-Khazen at Beq’ata

(Aug. 25 to 31, 1756) promulgated 18 canons. Patriarch

Joseph Estephan held a synod at Ghosta (Sept. 16 to 21,

1768) attended by a Franciscan delegate of the Holy See

to establish peace among the members of the Lebanese

congregation. Among the important decisions of this

synod was the decree requesting the patriarch to appoint

two examiners before whom all candidates for the priesthood,

secular and regular, would be examined. In the

same synod, the separation between Lebanese and Aleppian

congregations was decreed and later approved by

Clement XIV on July 19, 1770 (AB 168).

A synod called by Bishop Michael Al-Khazen was

held at Mayfooq (July 21 to 28, 1780) in the presence of

the apostolic delegate. It promulgated 13 new canons,

one of which was the condemnation of superstitious practices.

The other canons referred to matters of discipline

for the clergy and laymen. Patriarch Estephan held a

synod in Ain-Shaqiq (Sept. 6 to 11, 1786), attended by

few bishops and some of the Maronite nobility. The most

important decision of this synod was to return to the old

custom of having the bishops reside with the patriarch.

On Dec. 15, 1787, Pius VI condemned this synod and

asked Germanos Adam, Melkite bishop of Aleppo, to

hold another synod in the name of the Holy See (AB

179). It was held at Bkerke from Dec. 3 to 18, 1790. Patriarch

Estephan and his bishops attended it. Bishop Adam

made them revoke the decisions of Ain-Shaqiq that were

contrary to the decisions of the Synod of Mt. Lebanon.

The synod reached a compromise decision concerning

the juxtaposition of monasteries and convents. The Congregation

of the Propagation of the Faith (AC 106) made

a pronouncement about each one of the synod’s disciplinary

canons and ordered complete separation of religious

houses for men and women.

On Nov. 1, 1816, Pius VII complained to the Maronite

hierarchy about the abuses of the juxtaposition of religious houses for men and women, especially of

autonomous monasteries unaffiliated with the Lebanese

congregations (AB 188), and about bishops not residing

in their eparchies despite the reinforcement of this obligation

made in 1790. He ordered them to hold a synod in

the presence of the apostolic delegate and to abolish these

two abuses. The synod was held at Louaizee (April 14 to

15, 1818) and decreed 19 canons. The synod reserved

certain convents to the nuns and ordered them to follow

the rules decreed in 1736 for the autonomous convent of

Hrash, with the exception of the rising at night for prayer.

It assigned, for residence of the bishops, a monastery located

in their eparchy. On March 25, 1819, Pius VII

transmitted to the Maronite hierarchy a decree of the

Congregation of the Propagation of Faith reproducing

and making precise the decisions of this synod (AB


In 1820 the Holy See edited an official Latin text of

the Synod of Mt. Lebanon. In 1833 the Congregation of

the Propagation of Faith declared that only the Latin edition

of the Synod of Mt. Lebanon had force of law. It imposed

in 1839 and 1840 a new edition of the Maronite

ritual, which was a strongly Latinized edition, in major

part inspired by that of Peter Moubarack.


From 1841 to 1955. At the request of the pope, Patriarch

Paul Massad convoked a synod at Bekerke (April

ll to 30, 1856), but the acts of this synod were never approved

by the Holy See.

In 1891 Leo XIII, with Bishop Elias Hoyek (later patriarch),

erected the new Maronite College in Rome; the

original college had been suppressed by the armies of Napoleon

in 1808. In 1895 the same bishop founded the

Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family, a teaching

order. In 1900 Bishop Joseph Nejm edited in Arabic

a translation of the Synod of Mt. Lebanon, conforming

to the Latin original. Father George Manasˇ published in

Aleppo in 1925 The Canon Law of the Maronites, a comparison

of the three editions of the Synod of Mt. Lebanon

(1796, 1820, 1900). Elias Az-Zaynati published in Beirut

in the following year The Canon of the Lebanese Synod,

a systematic presentation of the canons of the synod similar

to those of the Latin code.

The Maronite patriarch is held in great esteem and

exercises great influence among Christians and non-

Christians alike. His residence is at Bkerke during the

winter and at Deeman during the summer.


Maronite church in the United States In the 1880s

and 1890s, Maronite Catholics were already to be found

throughout the United States. They had immigrated primarily

from Lebanon but also from Syria and other parts

of the Middle East. By the beginning of World War I,

Maronite communities were to be found all over the United

States, and there were at least 22 permanent Maronite

parishes. Ten years later, the Maronite presence had

grown to 37 churches and 46 priests.

Through the efforts of Maronite clergy and laity, and

the assistance of the achbishop of Washington, Our Lady

of Lebanon Maronite Seminary was established in Washington,

D.C in 1961. In 1966 the Holy Father established

the Maronite Apostolic Exarchate for the United States

and appointed Bishop Francis Zayek as the exarch. The

see city was Detroit, Michigan. In 1971 the exarchate was

raised to the rank of diocese, and the see was transferred

to Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1978. At the time of the exarchate’s

establishment, there were 43 Maronite parishes in the

United States.

To solidify Maronite identity and to respond to the

needs of the new generations of American Maronites, a

vast program of liturgical reform and translations was inaugurated

in the 1970s. This resulted in the publication

in English of a Maronite Lectionary, Book of Anaphoras,

several editions of the books of the Divine Liturgy, Ritual,

Divine Office, and liturgical music. Catechetical texts

for all twelve grades based on the Maronite tradition have

been published.

On March 1, 1994, as a sign of the progress of the

Maronite Church in the United States, the Holy Father established

a second eparchy or diocese. The new Eparchy

of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles incorporates all

the territory west of the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Bishop

John Chedid, who had been auxiliary bishop since

1980, was named eparch of the new jurisdiction. The new

eparchy comprises 24 parishes and 9 missions. The Eparchy

of St. Maron of Brooklyn consists of 33 parishes and

5 missions. With the retirement of Archbishop Zayek,

Stephen Hector Doueihi was appointed as the second

bishop of the Eparchy of St. Maron.

Aside from second- and third-generation American

Maronites, many Maronite parishes today have experienced

a large influx of immigrants who have come to the

United States and to other countries since the fighting

began in Lebanon in 1975 and have chosen to remain.

They are not only a significant presence, but have brought

with them a new injection of contemporary Maronite and

Lebanese culture.


Bibliography: P. DIB, Histoire de l’Église maronite, v. l (Beirut

1962). P. ABRAHAM, The Maronites of Lebanon (Wheeling,

W.Va. 1931). G. DANDINI, Missione apostolica al patriarca dei

Maroniti del Monte Libano (Cesena 1656). P. SFAIR, La Messa siromaronita

(Rome 1946); A. RABBATH, Documents inédits pour servir

à l’histoire du christianisme en Orient, 2 v. (Leipzig 1905–21).

T. ANAISSI, ed., Bullarium Maronitarum (Rome 1911); Collectio

documentorum Maronitarum (Leghorn 1921). I. ’AOUWA¯ D, Le

Droit privé des Maronites au temps des émirs Chihab, 1697–1841

(Paris 1938). J. A. ASSEMANI, Codex liturgicus ecclesiae universae,

lib. 1–4, 8 v. in 13 (Rome 1749–66) v. 5, 7; Bibliotheca iuris orientalis

canonici et civilis, 5 v. (Rome 1762–66). J. S. ASSEMANI Bibliotheca

orientalis, 3 v. in 4. IBN AL-’ASSA¯ L, Nomocanon: Kita¯b al

Quwa¯n¯ın, ed. M. GUIRGUIS (2d ed. Cairo 1927). A. QARA¯ ’ALI,



tas: ar as-Sˇar¯ı’a¯t, ed. P. MAS’AD (Beirut 1959), a resume of the

law. C. DE CLERCQ, Conciles des orientaux catholiques, 2 v. (Paris

1949–52), 1:1575–1849. A. COUSSA, Epitome praelectionum de

iure ecclesiastico orientali, 3 v. (Grottaferrata-Rome 1948–50;

suppl. 1958) v. 1, 3. P. DIB, ‘‘Les Conciles de L’Église Maronite,’’

Revue des sciences religieuses 4 (1924) 193–220, 421–439 and

pub. sep. (Strasbourg 1926). F. GALTIER, Le Mariage: Discipline

orientale et occidentale (Beirut 1950). P. MAS’AD, ed., Le Concile

Baladi of 1856 (Beirut 1959). P. FAHED, ed., Kita¯b al-Huda¯ (Aleppo

1935), Maronite Nomocanon. G. MANASˇ , At-Tuh: fa al-adab¯ıya f¯ı

tala¯ta magami’ ma¯rau¯n¯ıya (Juniya 1904), three Maronite synods;

Al-Haq al-qa¯nuni ’indal-Mawarina (Aleppo 1925), the canon law

of the Maronites. S. SˇARTU¯ NI¯, ‘‘The Maronite Synods,’’ Al-Mashriq

7 (1904), in Arabic. J. FÉGHALI, Histoire du droit de l’Église Maronite,

v. 1 (Paris 1962). J. D. MANSI, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et

amplissima collection, 31 v. (Florence-Venice 1757–98) v. 2, 14,

25, 33, 35, 38.




The Maronite Church traces its origins to the fourthcentury

hermit, St. Maron, and the fifth-century Monastery

of St. Maron, which was founded by his disciples.

These Syriac-speaking monks and the laity who gravitated

around them eventually succeeded in organizing an independent

hierarchy. Located in a region that straddled

both Antioch and Edessa, the MARONITE CHURCH was

heir of both the liturgical practice of the church of Antioch

and of the Semitic liturgical tradition that arose from

Edessa and the region to the East.

The earliest extant manuscripts of the Maronite Missal

highlight the Anaphora of Third Peter (also known by

its Syriac name of Sharar), which shares a common root

with the Chaldean Anaphora of Addai and Mari. The

Maronites and CHALDEANS also share common Edessene

elements in other prayers of the Divine Liturgy, in parts

of the baptismal rite, and in the hymns of the divine office.

Living within the region of Antioch, the Maronites

were also influenced by that tradition. With the establishment

of the Maronite Patriarchate in Lebanon at the end

of the seventh century, the Maronite Church adopted

many Antiochene anaphoras and became a part of the Antiochene

liturgical tradition. Besides the Anaphora of

Third Peter, the Maronite Church employs the ancient

Antiochene Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles, which became

the foundation for the Byzantine Anaphora of John


The first edition of the Maronite Missal was printed

at Rome from 1592 to 1594. It contained some significant

Latinizations. Instead of preserving the words of institution

which differed in the various anaphoras, the words

of institution of the Roman Missal were substituted in all

the anaphoras of the Maronite Missal. The meaning of the

epiklesis (invocation of the Holy Spirit) was changed.

Rather than the celebrant invoking the Holy Spirit to

transform the gifts into the body and blood of Christ, he

prays that the effects of the Eucharist be applied to the


The most recent edition of the Missal was promulgated

in 1992. It bears the title The Book of Offering

(Qorbono in Syriac) According to the Tradition of the Antiochene

Syriac Maronite Church. In this new edition all

Latinizations and accretions have been removed. It contains

six anaphoras. The traditional words of institution

of the Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles have replaced

those of the Roman rite in all the anaphoras. Also promulgated

were a Book of Gospels and a Book of Epistles.

From its life in Lebanon over the centuries, the Maronite

Church has also incorporated the poetry, prose, and

music of the native culture and produced a rich legacy of

festal rites, prayers, music, paraliturgical practices, and

pious devotions. Alongside the simple, haunting melodies

of Syriac chant are found the more polyphonic tones

of Arabic music, and even a borrowing of European

chants. The same may be said of religious art and architecture.


Bibliography: W. MACOMBER, ‘‘A Theory on the Origins of

the Syrian, Maronite, and Chaldean Rites,’’ Orientalia Christiana

Periodica 39 (1973) 235–242. B. GEMAYEL, Avant-Messe Maronite

Orientalia Christiana Analecta. v. 174 (Rome 1965). M. HAYEK, Liturgie

Maronite (Paris 1964). S. BEGGIANI, The Divine Liturgy of

the Maronite Church (New York 1998).



NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, second edition, volume 9