Maronite Hermits

An excellent overview of the eremitical tradition in the Maronite Church is found at
maronite hermit 2
“The Greek noun “eremos” means inhabitants of the desert and is the source of the English words “eremites” or “hermits”. They are also called anchorites. They choose to live alone in solitude in order to avoid all contact with their fellow men. However, not all of them sought total solitude. Some had companions who were generally called students or disciples. Others performed pastoral role for people who came to visit them and live near them.
Ascetic living in Syrian Christianity existed in the second and third centuries but sources are scarce and fragmented. However, it “may be traced back to the presumed Syrian origin of the Gospel according to Matthew, with its emphasis on the theme of discipleship, on a following of Christ involving celibacy (19:11-12), poverty (19:21) and homelessness (19:29) in the service of announcing the kingdom, in a proclamation to be accompanied by miraculous signs of exorcism and healing (10:7ff)” (Price 1985: XX).

However, the expansion of this kind of living in ancient Syria and Asia Minor in the fourth and fifth centuries is mostly linked to the end of the Roman persecution of the Christians. Hence the end of the possibility of martyrdom. Ascetic living became second best to witnessing to Christ through martyrdom.

The hermits in ancient Syria and Asia Minor were great ascetics. Some chose to live for years on the top of a pillar and were called stylites, like Saint Simon the Stylite. Others shut themselves away in one place and were called recluses like Marana and Cyra.
maronite hermitage
In the early centuries of Christianity, many of those seeking Christian perfection were trained in the ascetic life by an older hermit whose way of life and Christian virtues they were expected to observe and emulate. The guide exemplified the monastic rule and the disciples were to mirror his way of life and behavior.

Most hermits left no written records but their example and their deeds have survived. They had learned spirituality from the teachings of the Bible. They nourished it by partaking of the mysteries or sacraments and by emulating the virtues, heroism and sanctity of the Desert Fathers and the older hermits.”

See also


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