05.07.2014 7:06 AM views: 3152 SCIENCE Pavel Gusterin
Pavel Gusterin Download PDF file

Pavel Gusterin

Center for Asia and the Middle East of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

   Maronites are one of the groups of Catholics of a special kind of Antioch (western Syrian) rite. This confession was called by the name of the monastery Beit Maroun, located near the tomb of St. Maro (d. 433), or according to another version, called after the hermit Mar Maron.
In the era of the Crusades (XI-XIII centuries) Maronites supported crusaders. In the XVI century the Maronite feudals of the Hazens helped Druze[1] feudals of the Maan against Ottoman rule.
   Adhering from the VII century to the monothelitism[2] that was criticised  during the III Constantinopole Eucmenical Council (680-691) as heresy, Maronites in 1182 entered into a union with the Roman Catholic Church, adopting its dogma and leadership.
   Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) announced the conversion of Maronites in 1203 and the recognition of the primacy of the Pope in the bullae “Quia divinae sapentiae” in 1215.
   Having Recognized the Catholic doctrines, Maronites retained their rites, rites which are close to the existing rituals of Jacobites and Syro-catholics, although exposed to a certain “Romanization”.
   Catholics had “access” to the countries of Middle East through the consular offices of the Italian states. Trading posts were established during the Crusades in Egypt and Syria. Italian republics - Venice, Genoa, Pisa received various privileges for their consulates from Crusaders for their assistance. The situation has not changed, when the conquered by the Crusaders lands finally passed under the authority of the Muslim rulers in the XIII century. The Muslims, getting significant benefits from maritime trade, which they were not engaged in themselves, had quite bearable attitude to the Christians.
   Thus, the Roman Catholic Church was able to affect somehow the Maronite community. Historian of the church Guy Bedouelle reports that “the union of two churches was confirmed at the 11th session (V Lateran. - P.G.) Council on December 19, 1515. From this moment ecclesial communion has never been interrupted and is demonstrated at every opportunity …”[3].
   In 1584, Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) issued the bullae “Humana sic ferunt” and founded the Maronite Collegium in Rome to prepare Maronite priests, it was a special Jesuit School intended to spread Catholicism in Lebanon. Returning to Lebanon its graduates founded there similar catholic educational establishments. French King Louis XIV (164301715) took over treasury part of expenses for training the Lebanese in Paris.[4] Not for nothing A.E. Crymsky[5] assumed that some plays of medieval character of Christian Schools of Syria have their roots in the XVI-XVIII centuries, in the French Catholic literature of Louis XIII and Louis XIV.[6]
   A few famous scientists are the graduates of the Maronite school, in particular grammarian George Amir, the author of “Grammatica Syriaca” (Roma, 1596); Gabriel Syenite, professor of Arabic and Syriac of the Paris Academy, author of the translation of the Psalter from Syric into Latin (Paris, 1625); grammarian Abraham Ekkeliysky, the author of “Grammatica Syriaca” (Roma, 1628), “Semita Sapientiae” (translation from Arabic; Paris, 1646) and “Catalogus Librorum Cbaldaeorum” (Roma, 1653). Abraham Ekkeliysky is also the author of the translation of the essay of Egyptian encyclopedist Jalal-ud-din Suyuty (1445-1505) “Collection of animals”, published in 1647 in Paris under the title “De proprietatibus et virtutibus medicis animalium plantarum ac gemmarum”.
   A special place in the history of cooperation of Maronites with Europe takes Maronite surname Assemani, the representatives of which are also graduates of the Maronite school. Iocif Simon Assemani (1686-1768) was the publisher of the works of St. Ephrem Syrin “Opera Ephraemi Syri” in 6 books (Roma, 1732-1746) and the author of four-volume scientific description of the manuscripts of the Vatican Library “Biblioteca orientalis Clementino-Vaticana” (Roma, 1719-1728), “which made it possible to explore a big amount of Syrian documents  that are indispensable source for the history of the Churches of Syria and Egypt”[7]. His eldest nephew - Stefan-Evodia (1707-1782), who worked with him on describing the manuscripts of the Vatican library (Roma, 1756) is the author of 2-volume “Bibliothecae Mediceo-Laurentinae et Palatinae codices manuscripti orientales” (Florentia, 1742) and 2-volume “Acta sanctorum martyrum orientalium et occidentalium” with Chaldean text (Roma, 1748; French translation - Paris, 1852). Junior nephew of Iocif-Simon - Iocif-Aliysius (1710-1782) is the author of the remarkable work “Missale-Alexandrinum St. Marci inquo Eucharistiae Liturgiae omnes antiquae ac recentes Ecclesiarum Aegypti, Graece, Coptice, Arabice et Syriace exhibentur” (Roma, 1754).
   Lebanese Kaziri Miguel (1710-1791), who also studied in Rome, taught here Semitic languages and later became head of Escorial library[8], made descriptions of Arabic manuscripts which were published in his book  “Bibliotheca arabico-hispana Escurialensis” (Madrid, 1760–1770), republished in Paris in 1884 under the title “Les Manuscrits arabes de l’Escurial”.
   Among the Maronites who helped to acquaint Europeans with the Arab East special place occupies Gabriel Al-Sahyuni (1577-1648). He also was a graduate of the Maronite Collegium, after which he taught Arabic and Syriac languages in Rome and Paris, he wrote various scientific works and translated medieval Arabic works into Latin. Al-Sahyuni as an editor took part in preparing of the edition named Polyglots of the Bible in Paris in 1645, the translation of Arabic part of which was made by Maronite Bishop of Damascus on the order of the Roman Congregation of Catholic Propaganda.
   Teacher of Arabic and Syriac Ibrahim al-Hakalani (d. 1664) was awarded the title of courtier translator for the translation of a big number of Arabic works by Cardinal Richelieu [9]. Al-Hakalani is also the author of works on the history of the Arabs, Arab philosophy and language. He is also the author of the Arab-Latin dictionary.
   Shown in the attached list of references Nairon Antoine Faustus (1637-1707) was a professor of Syriac and Chaldean in the Maronite Collegium.
   At the end of XVII - beginning of XVIII century graduate of Maronite Collegium Butrus Mubarak (1660-1747) became a founder of the Maronite school in Tuscany (Italy) and translator of Arabic-speaking authors.[10]
   Maronites also sought to get knowledge and spiritual experience from the Catholic heritage. Thus, writer Gabriel Farhat (1670-1732) made the book of instructions on the basis of the book “Spiritual Experiences” (“Exercitia Spiritualia”) of the founder of Jesuit order Ignatius Loyola.
   In 1671, in Rome, was published a three-volume edition of the Bible in Arabic, edited with participation of Maronite Sarkis al-Rizzi, in accordance with the Vulgate. It was the first specially prepared edition of the Scripture. Arabic text is actually printed on the sidelines in Latin. In 1703, the text of this edition was included into the Syrian work Karchouni in the Syro-arabian edition intended for Maronites. The text of the canonical books of the Roman edition of 1671 was repeatedly reprinted in London in the XIX century.
   Despite the fact that in 1736, at the Council, held in the Lebanese monastery Sayyadat, Maronites adopted the resolutions of the Trent Council (1545-1563), Rome had to exert more effort and spend big money to become really closer to them.


[1] Druses — group of ethnic Arabs of particular denomination. Live, mainly , in Lebanon and Syria..
[2] Compromise doctrine between dyophysitism and monophysitism according to which two natures are recognized in Jesus Christ, but the single will.
[3] Bedouelle G. History of the Church. М., 1996, p. 214.
[4] History of World Literature. Book 4. М., 1987, p. 409.
[5] Krymsky Agafangel Efimovich (1871–1942) — domestic orientalist (Atabic studies, Iranian studies, Islamic studies, Semitic, Turkology). He is graduate of the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages (1892), and of the historical-philological faculty of Moscow University (1896). One of the founders of the Acdemy of Sciences of Ukraine. Academician (1919). Author of more than 1500 works on the history and culture of the East, on Islam, Koran Studies, Ukrainian grammar and literary works.
[6] Krymsky A.E. History of Modern Arabic Literature. М., 1971, p. 138.
[7] Bedouelle G. Op. cit., p. 215.
[8] Escorial - monastery-palace near Madrid, the residence of the Spanish kings, built in times of Philip II (1563–1584).
[9] Arman Jean du Plessis, duc de Richelieu (1585-1642) - French statesman.
[10] History of World Literature. Book 4, p. 410.


1. Al'-Fakhuri Kh. Istoriia arabskoi literatury [History of Arabic Literature]. Book 2. M., 1961.
2. Bazili K.M. Siriia i Palestina pod turetskim pravitel'stvom [Syria and Palestine under the Turkish government]. M., 1962.
3. Beduell G. Istoriia Tserkvi [History of the Church]. M., 1996.
4. Betts R.-B. Christians in the Middle East. S.P.C.K., 1979.
5. Gibb Kh.-A.-R. Arabskaia literatura [Arabic literature]. M., 1960.
6. Habib Badr. Christianity: a history in the Middle East. Middle East Council of Churches, 2005.
7. Katolicheskaia entsiklopediia [The Catholic Encyclopedia]. Book III. M., 2007.
8. Kenneth Cragg. The Arab Christian. Louisville, 1991.
9. Krymskii A.E. Istoriia novoi arabskoi literatury [History of Modern Arabic Literature]. M., 1971.
10. Nairon A.-F. Dissertatio de origine nomine et religione Maronitarum. Roma, 1679.
11. Nairon A.-F. Evolpia fidei catholicae romanae historico-dogmatica. Roma, 1694.
12. Narody i religii mira: Entsiklopediia [Peoples and Religions of the World: An Encyclopedia]. M., 1998.
13. Pawinsky A. Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Consulates in den Communen Nord und Mittelitaliens in XI und XII Jahrh. Göttingen, 1867.
14. Petkovich K. Livan i livantsy [Lebanon and Lebanese]. Ch. 3. SPb., 1885.
15. Schnurrer C.F. De ecclesia Maronitica. Tübingen, 1810.
16. Simon R. Voyage du mont Lebanon. Paris, 1685.
17. The Maronites in History. New York, 1986.
18. Istoriia vsemirnoi literatury [History of World Literature]. Book 4. M., 1987.

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