Estephane-Douaihi.jpg Peter Hoayek.JPG Khalil Gibran.jpg
Camille chamoun.jpg Fairuz in btd concert 2001.jpg
Top row (left to right)
Estephan El DouaihyElias Peter HoayekKhalil GibranCamille ChamounFairuz
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Lebanon 1,062,000 [1]
 Argentina 750,000 [1]
 Brazil 550,000 [1]
 United States 215,000 [1]
 Mexico 160,000 [1]
 Australia 160,000 [1]
 Canada 85,000 [1]
 Syria 52,100 [1]
 France 52,000 [1]
 Venezuela 25,000 [1]
 Cyprus 10,500 [1]
 Israel 6,700 [2]
 Germany 5,400 [1]
 United Kingdom 5,300 [1]
 Egypt 5,000 [1]
 Sweden 2,470 [1]
 Belgium 3,400 [1]
Italy Italy 2,500 [1]
 Jordan 1,000 [1]

Lebanese Arabic, Cypriot Maronite Arabic
Syriac (Aramaic)


Christianity (Maronite Catholic)

Related ethnic groups

Syriacs/Assyrians, Levantine Arabs

Maronites (Arabic: الموارنة‎; al-mawārinah, Syriac: ܡܪ̈ܘܢܝܐ; maronāyé), is an ethnoreligious group in the Middle East that have been historically tied with Lebanon. They derive their name from the Syriac saint Mar Maron whose followers moved to Mount Lebanon from northern Syria establishing the Maronite Church.[3]

The Maronite were able to maintain an independent status in Lebanon after the Islamic conquest maintaining their religion and language until the 13th century.[3]

The Ottoman Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate and later the Republic of Lebanon were created under the auspice of European powers with the Maronites as their main ethnoreligious component. Mass immigration to the Americas at the wake of the 20th centuries and the Lebanese Civil War decreased their numbers greatly in the Middle East. The Maronites form today less than one fourth of the total population of Lebanon.




Maronite villagers building a church in Mount Lebanon, 1920s

A number of Maronite historians claim that the Maronites were the descendants of the Marada (ܡܪܕܐ), the original inhabitants of Lebanon who refused both Byzantine and Arab authorities. The reason for their adoption of the name is disputed and historian disagree whether this is attributed to Mar Maron, a 4th century Syriac saint, or to John Maron, the first bishop of Lebanon.[4]


  Part of a series of articles on the

Cedar flag.svg

County of Tripoli
Ottoman rule (1860 conflict  · Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate)
1958 Lebanon crisis  · Greater Lebanon
Lebanese Civil War (South Lebanon conflict  · Taif Agreement)

Religious affiliation
Maronite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
Lebanese Maronite Order
Mar Bechara Boutros Raï

Lebanese politics
Lebanese nationalism
Kataeb Party  · March 14 Alliance

Arabic (Lebanese Arabic  · Cypriot Arabic)  · Aramaic (Syriac)

Cyprus · Israel · Lebanon · Jordan · Syria

v · Catholic Near East Welfare Association.


Based on a 2007 report, there are approximately 930,000 Maronites in Lebanon, where they constitute up to 22% of the population.[5] According to an agreement between the various political and religious leaders of Lebanon, the president of the country must be a Maronite.[6]


Syrian Maronites total 51,000 and they follow the archdioceses of Aleppo and Damascus and the Diocese of Latakia.[7]


There is also a Maronite community in Cyprus, which speaks Cypriot Maronite Arabic.[8][9] They are a recognized religious minority on the island and the community elects a representative to sit in the House of Representatives to voice their interests. They are descended from those Maronites who accompanied the crusaders, although more recent Lebanese immigrants are often included as part of the community, which now numbers 10,000.[7]


A noticeable Maronite community exists in northern Israel, numbering 7,504,[7] composed of the long existing community in Jish area, and recent fugitives (mostly former SLA militia members and their families), who fled South Lebanon to Galilee in April-May 2000.


The Americas

The two residing eparchies in the United States have issued their own "Maronite Census", designed to estimate how many Maronites reside in the United States. Many Maronites have been assimilated into Western Catholicism as there were no Maronite parishes or priests available. The "Maronite Census" was designed to locate these Maronites. There are also eparchies at São Paulo in Brazil; as well as in Argentina, Canada and Mexico.[7]

South Africa

The history of the Lebanese Community goes back to the late 19th century, when the first immigrants arrived in Johannesburg, the biggest city in the Transvaal coming from Sebhel, Mesyara, Becharre, Hadath El-Joube, Maghdoushe and other places. It is recorded that in the year 1896 the first Maronite and Lebanese immigrants arrived in Durban, Cape Town and Mozambique, and congregated around their local Catholic Churches. The majority of the Lebanese immigrants were Maronite and were concerned about keeping their Maronite faith alive in a new country, they wrote to the Maronite Patriarch, insisting on a Maronite Priest to come to South Africa to continue their tradition and the Maronite Rite. In 1905, Patriarch Elias El-Hoyek, sent Fr. Emmanuel El-Fadle to South Africa from Kfarhata–Elzawye, North Lebanon. A historical year for the entire Maronite Community in South Africa - Fr. Emmanuel El-Fadle was the first Maronite Priest to walk on South African soil. After time as a student in Rome and Paris, he began serving the South African community on both spiritual and social levels. He converted a building in Johannesburg into a church and residence. He left South Africa after 2 years. On his return to Lebanon he died, a victim of the ill-fated ship, Waratah, which sunk at Okeanos, no wreckage was ever found.

In 1910, Fr. Ashkar arrived to build a church and a home for the priests. The Patriarch, then sent another priest to assist - Fr. Wakim Estphan. Fr. Ashkar returned to Lebanon and retired in 1928. The mission was then handed over to The Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries. Fr. Yousef Juan, who was appointed as a temporary visitor, received instruction from the Patriarch and the General Superior for Fr. Yousef Moubarak to succeed him in serving the South African Maronite Community. The Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries have since served in South Africa among other countries and continue in their mission in serving and assisting in the Maronite Rite.

Rest of the world

Significant Maronite communities also reside in Australia and South Africa.


The Maronite Christians, are a part of the Syriac people and belongs to the West Syriac Rite. The Maronite Syriac Church of Antioch has been founded by Maron, an early 5th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint.[10][11] Before the conquest by Arabian Muslims reached Lebanon, the Lebanese people including those who would become Muslim and the majority who would remain Christian, spoke a dialect of Aramaic called Syriac.[12][13][14] Syriac (Christian Aramaic) still remains the liturgical language of the Maronite Church.[15]


Phoenicianism never developed into an integrated ideology led by key thinkers, but there are a few who stood out more than others: Charles Corm, Michel Chiha, and Said Aql in their promotion of Phoenicianism.[16]

In post civil-war Lebanon since the Taif agreement, politically Phoenicianism as an alternate to Arabism is restricted to small group.[17] At the March 1936 Congress of the Coast and Four Districts, the Muslim leadership at this conference made the declaration that Lebanon was an Arab country, indistinguishable from its Arab neighbors. In the April 1936 Beirut municipal elections, Christian and Muslim Politicians were divided along Phoenician and Arab lines in concern of whether the Lebanese coast should be claimed by Syria or given to Lebanon. Increasing the already mounting tensions between the two communities.[18] Phoeniciansm is deeply disputed by most serious scholars who have on occasion tried to convince them these claims are false and to embrace and accept the Arab identity instead.[19] This conflict of ideas of an identity is believed to be one of the main pivotal disputes between the Muslim and Christian populations of Lebanon and what mainly divides the country from national unity.[20][21] It's generalized that Muslims focus more on the Arab identity of Lebanese history and culture whereas Christians focus on the pre-arabized & non-Arab spectrum of the Lebanese identity and rather refrain from the Arab specification.[22][23]

Lebanese nationalism

Lebanese Christians are known to be specifically linked to the root of Lebanese Nationalism and opposition to Pan-Arabism in Lebanon, this being the case during 1958 Lebanon crisis. When Muslim Arab nationalists backed by Gamel Abdel Nasser tried to overthrow the then Christian dominated government in power, due to the displeasure of the government's pro-western policies and their lack of commitment and duty to so called "Arab brotherhood" by preferring keep Lebanon away from the Arab League and the political confrontations of the Middle East. A more hard-nosed nationalism among some Christian leaders, who saw Lebanese nationalism more in terms of its confessional roots and failed to be carried away by Chiha's vision, clung to a more security-minded view of Lebanon. They regarded the national project as mainly a program for the security of Christians and a bulwark against threats from Muslims and their hinterland.[24]

Also this is seen with its movement members and leaders. With Etienne Saqr, Said Akl, Charles Malik, Camille Chamoun and Bachir Gemayel being notable names. Some being noted go as far as having Anti-Arab views, in his book the Israeli writer Mordechai Nisan who at times met with some of them during the war quoted Said Akl a famous Lebanese poet and philosopher as saying;

"I would cut off my right hand just not to be an Arab."[25]

Akl believes in emphasis of the Phoenician legacy of the Lebanese people and promoted the use of the Lebanese dialect written in a modified Latin alphabet, that had been influenced by the Phoenician alphabet, rather than the Arabic one.[19]

With the exiled Leader and founder of the right-wing yet secular Guardians of the Cedars Etienne Saqr also the father of singers Karol Sakr and Pascale Sakr that took no sectarian stance and even had Muslim members who joined in their radical stance against Arabism and Palestinian forces in Lebanon.[26] Saqr summarized his party's view on the Arab Identity on their official ideological manifesto by stating;

Lebanon will remain, as always, Lebanese without any labels. The French passed through it yet it remained Lebanese. The Ottomans ruled it and it remained Lebanese. The stinky winds of Arabism blows through it, but the wind will wither away and Lebanon will remain Lebanese. I do not know what will become of those wretched people who claim that Lebanon is Arabic when Arabism disappears from the map of the Middle East and a new Middle East would emerge, which is clean from Arabs and Arabism.[27]

On an Al Jazeera special dedicated to the political Christian clans of Lebanon and their struggle for power in the 2009 election entitled, Lebanon: The Family Business the issue of identity was brought up on several occasions, by various politicians including Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who claimed that all Lebanese lack somewhat of a real identity and the country is yet to discover one everybody could agree on. Sami Gemayel, of the Gemayel clan and son of former president Amin Gemayel, stated he did not consider himself an Arab but instead identified himself as a Syriac, going on to explain that to him and many Lebanese the "acceptance" of Lebanon's "Arab identity" according to the Taef Agreement wasn't something that they "accepted" but instead were forced into signing through pressure.

The official declared "Arab Identity" of Lebanon was created in 1990 based on the Taif Agreement. Without any free discussion or debate among Lebanese people and while Lebanon was under Syrian custody and in the presence of armed Syrian military inside then Lebanese parliament when voting on constitutional amendments were taking place.[28]

In a speech in 2009 to a crowd of Christian Kataeb supporters which he stated to him he felt there was importance in Christians finding an identity and went on to state what he finds identification with as a Lebanese Christian concluding with a purposely exclusion of Arab in the segment. The speech met with an applause afterward from the audience;[28]

What we are missing today, is an important element of our life and our honor. Which is our identity. I will tell you today, that I as a Lebanese citizen, my Identity is Maronite, Syriac, Christian, and Lebanese(مارونية سريانية مسيحية لبنانية : Maroniya, Syryaniya, Masïhiya, Lubnaniya).[28]

Etienne Sakr (of the Guardians of the Cedars Lebanese party) in an interview responded "We are not Arabs" in response to an interview question about the Guardians of the Cedars' ideology of Lebanon being Lebanese. He continues by talking about describing Lebanon as being not Arab as a crime in present day Lebanon, the Lebanese civil war, about Arabism as being first step towards Islamism, that "the Arabs want to annex Lebanon" and in order to do this "to push the Christians out (out of Lebanon)" and it being "the plan since 1975", among other issues.[29]

Embrace of Arab identity

During a final session of the Lebanese Parliament, a Marada Maronite MP states his identity as an Arab: "I, the Maronite Christian Lebanese Arab, grandson of Patriarch Estefan Doueihy, declare my pride to be a part of our people’s resistance in the South. Can one renounce what guarantees his rights?"[30]

Lebanese contraversial historian Kamal Salibi (a Protestant Christian) in his 'A House of Many Mansions' [1988] states (ch. 6): "It is very possible that the Maronites, as a community of Arabian origin, were among the last Arabian Christian tribes to arrive in Syria before Islam. Certainly, since the 14th century, their language has been Arabic. Syriac, which is the Christian literary form of Aramaic, was originally the liturgical language of all the Semitic Christian sects, in Arabia as well as in the Levant and Mesapotamia."[citation needed]

Genetic Studies

A study in the genetic marker of the Phoenicians led by Pierre Zalloua, showed that the Phoenician genetic marker was found in 1 out of 17 males in the region surrounding the Mediterranean and Phoenician trading centers such as the Levant, Tunisia, Morocco, Cyprus, and Malta. The study focused on the male Y-chromosome of a sample of 1,330 males from the Mediterranean. Colin Groves, biological anthropologist of the Australia National University in Canberra says that the study does not suggest that the Phoenicians were restricted to a certain place, but that their DNA still lingers 3,000 years later.[31][32]

In Lebanon, almost 1 in 3 of Lebanese carry the Phoenician gene in their DNA. This Phoenician signature is distributed equally among different groups (both Christians and Muslims) in Lebanon and that the overall genetic makeup of the Lebanese was found to be similar across various backgrounds.[33] The Phoenician gene in this study refers to haplogroup J2 plus the haplotypes PCS1+ to PCS6+, however the study also states that the Phoenicians also likely had other haplogroups.[34]

In addition, the study found that the J2 ("old levantine haplogroup") was found in an "unusually high proportion" (about 20-30%) among Levantine people such as the Syrians, Lebanese, and the Palestinians. The ancestor haplogroup J is common to about 50% of the Arabic-speaking people of the Southwest Asian portion of the Middle East. A Lebanese Christian who was tested as having the J2 haplogroup stated that "It carries no big meaning," and added he views himself as "Lebanese, Arab and Christian -- in that order."[35]

Another Lebanese citizen tested stated he would be "very proud" to discover he had Phoenician roots."I will be more than happy to have Phoenician roots," said Nabil. Phoenicians started the civilization, they are the ones who invented the alphabet,[36] I would be very proud to be a Phoenician," he adds. Dr Pierre Zalloua says the project's discovery is a "truly unifying message".[37]

He explained,"I think it's a truly unifying message, and for me its very gratifying. Lebanon has been hammered by so many divides, and now a piece of heritage has been unravelled in this project which reminds us that maybe we should forget about differences and pay attention to our common heritage," stated Dr. Pierre Zalloua.[citation needed]



Maronite Patriarch and bishops in Rome, 1906

The Maronites belong to the Maronite Syriac Church of Antioch, which is a Eastern Catholic Syriac Church that had affirmed its communion with Rome since 1180 A.D., although the official view of the Church is that it had never accepted the Monophysitic views held by their Syriac neighbours, which were condemned in the Council of Chalcedon.[38] The Maronite Archbishop is traditionally seated in Bkerke north of Beirut.


Modern Maronites often adopt French or other Western European given names (with biblical origins) for their children like Michel, Marc, Marie, Georges, Carole, Charles, Antoine and Pierre.

Given names of Arabic origins identical with those of their Muslim neighbors are also common, such as Khalil, Samir, Salim, Jameel, Hisham, or Toufic. Other common names are strictly Christian and are Aramaic, or Arabic, forms of biblical, Hebrew, or Greek Christian names, such as Antun (Anthony or Antonios), Butros (Peter), Boulos (Paul), Semaan or Shamaoun (Simon), Jergyes (George), Elie (Ilyas or Elias), Iskander (Alexander) and Beshara (literally Good News in reference to the Gospel). Other common names are Sarkis (Sergius) and Bakhos (Bacchus), while others are common both among Christians and Muslims, such as Youssef (Joseph) or Ibrahim (Abraham).

Some Maronite Christians are named in honour of Maronite saints, including the Aramaic names Maroun (after their patron saint, Maron), Nimtullah, Charbel and Rafqa.

Persecution & struggle

Maronite Christians felt fear and exclusion from Pan Arabism in Lebanon.[39][40] Part of its historic suffering is the Damour massacre by the PLO, which was a response to the Karantina massacre by Phalangist Christians. Until recently, the Cyprus Maronites battle to preserve their ancestral language.[41] The Maronite monks maintain that Lebanon is synonymous with Maronite history and ethos; that its Maronitism antedates the Arab conquest of Syria and Lebanon and that Arabism is only a historical accident.[42]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "There are 3,500,000 Maronites in the World". 1994-01-03. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  2. ^ "Jewish Virtual Library". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  3. ^ a b Mannheim, I (2001). Syria & Lebanon handbook: the travel guide. Footprint Travel Guides. pp. 652-563. ISBN 9781900949903. 
  4. ^ Moosa, Matti (2005). The Maronites in History. Gorgias Press LLC. pp. 14-14. ISBN 9781593331825. 
  5. ^ Lebanon - International Religious Freedom Report 2008 U.S. Department of State. Retrieved on 2009-09-04.
  6. ^ United Nations Development Programme : Programme on Governance in the Arab Region : Elections : Lebanon. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d Annuario Pontificio : The Eastern Catholic Churches 2008. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  8. ^ Maria Tsiapera, A Descriptive Analysis of Cypriot Maronite Arabic, 1969, Mouton and Company, The Hague, 69 pages
  9. ^ Cyprus Ministry of Interior : European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages : Answers to the Comments/Questions Submitted to the Government of Cyprus Regarding its Initial Periodical Report. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Review of Phares Book". Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  13. ^ The Precarious Republic: Political Modernization in Lebanon. By Michael C. Hudson, 1968
  14. ^ Lebanon: Its Stand in History Among the Near East Countries By Salim Wakim, 1996.
  15. ^ "St. George Maronite Church". Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  16. ^ Reviving Phoenicia: in search of ... - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  17. ^ Reviving Phoenicia: in search of ... - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  18. ^ Reviving Phoenicia: in search of ... - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  19. ^ a b The Middle East: From Transition to Development By Sami G. Hajjar
  20. ^ "The Identity of Lebanon". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  21. ^ "Lebanon: The Arab Village Idiot". American Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Notes on the Question of Lebanese Nationalism". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  25. ^ (Page 21)
  26. ^ The conscience of Lebanon: a ... - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  27. ^ "The Guardians of the Cedars". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  28. ^ a b c “”. "Lebanon: The family business - 31 May 09 - Part 4". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  29. ^ "Interview with Etienne Saqr (Abu Arz)". Global Politician. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  30. ^ "The vote of confidence debate – final session | Ya Libnan | World News Live from Lebanon". LB: Ya Libnan. 2009-12-11. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  31. ^ "Photo: Phoenician Blood Endures 3,000 Years, DNA Study Shows". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  32. ^ "DNA legacy of ancient seafarers". BBC News. October 31, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  33. ^ "Divided Lebanon's common genes". BBC News. December 20, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  34. ^ "Haplogroup J2, in general, and haplotypes PCS1+ through PCS6+ therefore represent lineages that might have been spread by the Phoenicians... We do not suggest that the Phoenicians spread only or predominantly J2 and PCS1+ through PCS6+ lineages. They are likely to have spread many lineages from multiple haplogroups" [1]
  35. ^ "In Lebanon DNA may yet heal rifts | Reuters". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  36. ^ "Phoenicians did not invent the alphabet"
  37. ^
  38. ^ Moosa, M (2005). The Maronites in History. Gorgias Press LLC. pp. 209-210. ISBN 9781593331825. http:// 
  39. ^ The war for Lebanon, 1970-1985 - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  40. ^ Conversion and continuity ... - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  41. ^ Martelli, Simon (2010-03-03). "AFP: Cyprus Maronites battle to preserve ancestral language". Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  42. ^ The Maronites in History - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Maronites — • History of the Maronite nation and Church Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Maronites     Maronites     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Maronites — Cet article fait partie d une série sur Les Maronites …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Maronites — Maronite Mar o*nite, n.; pl. {Maronites}. (Eccl. Hist.) One of a body of nominal Christians, who speak the Arabic language, and reside on Mount Lebanon and in different parts of Syria. They take their name from one Maron of the 6th century. [1913 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Maronites —    Christian Arabs (q.v.) of Lebanon whose church goes back at least to John Maron, a bishop of the seventh century. The Maronites may have separated over their support of Monotheletism (q.v.), despite its condemnation at the Sixth Ecumenical… …   Historical dictionary of Byzantium

  • MARONITES —    a sect of Syrian Christians, numbering 200,000, dwelling on the eastern slopes of Lebanon, where they settled in the 7th century, and who joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1445, while they retain much of their primitive character; they… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Maronites — n. member of a Christian sect that live mainly in Lebanon and in communion with the Roman Catholic Church …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Maronites —  Марониты …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • Maronites in Israel —   Part of a series of articles on the Maronites …   Wikipedia

  • Maronites in Cyprus —   Part of a series of articles on the Maronites …   Wikipedia

  • Les moines Maronites — Église maronite Église maronite Fondateur(s) Disciples de Maron Union à Rome N’a jamais été séparée Primat actuel Patriarche Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.