THE RELICS OF ST. MARON
Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.
St. Maron passed to eternal life between 407 and 423,
probably around 410. Before his death he expressed the desire to be
buried in St. Zabina’s tomb at Kita in the region of Cyr. But his wish
was not fulfilled. What, then, became of the remains of St. Maron?
Following his death several villages erupted in riots because each wanted
to have the remains of Maron . Bishop Theodoret of Cyr in his writings
suggests that Maron’s remains were buried in the large, new church at Barad
near Kfarnabo. That church had a sarcophagus which may have contained
An ancient Maronite tradition held that followers of the saint carried his
relics to the famed St. Maron’s Monastery, “Beit Maroun,” erected in 452
between Hama and Aleppo in Syria.
At the turn of the eighth century there is evidence that St. Maron’s skull
was taken to Lebanon to St. Maron’s Monastery in Kfarhai, Batroun.
Patriarch Douaihy records that “When Youhanna Maroun (St. John Maron) settled
in Kfarhai he built a monastery named for St. Maroun and placed St. Maroun’s
skull inside the altar to heal the faithful. For this reason the monastery
is called ‘Rish Mro,’ which means “Maroun’s head” in Syriac.”
Surprisingly, St. Maron’s skull was taken to Italy. A Benedictine monk
who visited Beit Maroun in 1130 venerated the relic of St. Maron’s skull,
and upon his return to Foligno extolled the holiness of Maron’s life.
So impressed were the bishop and the people that a church was built in the
name of St. Maron at Foligno. Then the bishop of Foligno brought St.
Maron’s skull to his diocese in 1194 and placed it in the Church of St. Maron.
The precious relic was placed in a silver statue of St. Maron specially made
by the local artists for the church. While in Italy in 1887 Bishop
Youssef el-Debs was given some relics of St. Maron’s skull by the bishop
of Foligno to return to Lebanon.
Originally the Maronite Church celebrated the feast of St. Maron on January
5, the day on which the church at Kfarhai was dedicated in his honor.
In the seventeenth century the feast was transferred to February 9.
The erudite Pope Benedict XIV in the mid-eighteenth century granted a plenary
indulgence to anyone who visited a Maronite church on the feast of St. Maron,