April 2006
Film of the Month - April
Mark Merlino - Home page

AL Mawarenah - The Maronites
(Part 1)
AL Mawarenah - The Maronites (Part 1) is a well done Lebanese production relating
the history of the Maronites from the life of Saint Maron until the 20th century. The
bulk of the documentary consists of interviews done with several prominent Maronite
clerics and scholars. All of the interviews were conducted in Arabic, in Lebanon,
though subtitles are also provided.

One of the main aims of
AL Mawarenah is to retrace the origins of the Maronite
confession in Lebanon. To do this, the life, works and legacy of a 5th century monk
named Saint Maron are discussed in detail. The followers of Saint Maron, set up a
monastery dedicated to the saint. The followers of this saint first distinguished
themselves in the church of Antioch when they supported the council of Chalcedon,
leading to their split with the non-Chalcedonian Jacobites.

The film then goes on how to describe how a distinct Maronite identity was further
strengthened after the Arab - Muslim invasion. Maronite monks, who moved into the
Lebanese mountains for security, converted the local pagan inhabitants to Christianity.
The new Maronite communities in the Lebanese mountains then merged with the
Jarajima/Marada, who were mercenaries sent by the Byzantine government as frontier

The film then describes how the Maronites continued as an increasingly autonomous
community in the following centuries, with their own patriarch after the year 685 AD.
Throughout medieval and early modern times, the Maronites enjoyed good relations
with the West. They supported the crusaders, were given their own college in Rome in
the 16th c., gained French protection in the 17th c., and had a major Synod that
reorganized their church in the 18th c. The documentary then concludes with
discussion of the increasing prosperity of the Maronite community in the 19th c.,
leading to conflicts with the Druzes and the Ottoman division of Lebanon into two

If you would like an solid introduction to Maronite history, from ancient to modern
times, this film is for you. It is very informative.