Friday, July 31, 2015

The Feast of the 350 Maronite Martyrs

(Maronite Servants of Christ the Light) - Today in the Maronite Church we celebrate the Feast of the 350 Maronite Martyrs- July 31

After Saint Maron died, many were inspired by his teachings and his ascetic way of life. By the fifth century a monastery was built near where he lived known as Bet Maroun. The monastery became very significant in the region. Also in the fifth century a debate had emerged about the nature of Jesus. The debate centered on whether Jesus was divine, human or both and exactly what that meant. Some, like the Nestorians, argued that Jesus was separately divine and human and that the two natures were independent. Others such as the Jacobites taught that Jesus was only divine and his divinity absorbed his human nature.

In 451, The Council of Chalcedon dealt with the debate once and for all, declaring that Christ was both divine and human, but one person.

The Maronites upheld the proclamation of the Council of Chalcedon. The monks of Saint Maron led the way preaching the true doctrine and opposing heresy. We learn of the martyrdom of the 350 Monks in a letter from the monks to Pope Hormisdas in the year 517. They described the suffering and attacks they are enduring, particularly from the Antiochian Patriarchs Severus and Peter who opposed the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon. They described that they were mocked for their support of the Council and were suffering afflictions. They described how the Emperor Anastasius had sent an army that had marched through the district of Apamea closing monasteries and expelling the monks. Some monks had been beaten and others had been thrown into prison. While on their way to Saint Simon Stylite, the Maronites had been ambushed and 350 monks were killed, even though some of them had taken refuge at the altar. The monastery was burned. The letter was signed by Alexander, priest and archimandrite and over 200 other signatures followed, of other archimandrites, priests and deacons.

We pray that like the 350 Martyrs we are always obedient to the teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

May their prayers be with us always. Amen

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