The Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch (Classical Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܡܪܘܢܝܬܐ ܕܐܢܛܝܘܟܝܐ ʿīṯo suryaiṯo māronaiṯo d'anṭiokia; Arabic: الكنيسة الأنطاكية السريانية المارونية al-Kanīsa al-Intākīyya al-Seryānīyya al-Mārwnīyya; Latin: Ecclesia Maronitarum) is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See of Rome. It traces its heritage back to the community founded by Maroun, a 4th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. The first Maronite Patriarch, Saint John Maron, was elected in the late 7th century.
Although reduced in numbers today, Maronites remain one of the principal ethno-religious groups in Lebanon. The Maronite Church asserts that since its inception, it has always remained faithful to the Church of Rome and the Pope. In November 2012, Pope Benedict appointed Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi as a Cardinal.
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. Syriac (Christian Aramaic) still remains the liturgical language of the Maronite Church. The members of the Maronite Church are a part of the Syriac people; though they have, over time, developed a distinctive Maronite character, this has not obscured their Antiochene and Syriac origin.
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