MARONITE Catholics living in Brisbane made a pilgrimage to their homeland of Lebanon in the spiritual sense when they welcomed the first-class relics of their founding father St Maroun.
The Maronite community of St Maroun’s, Greenslopes, venerated the ex-ossibus relics of St Maroun, taken from his skull, at Evening Prayer on February 10.
St Maroun was a Christian hermit monk who was responsible for bringing Christianity to Syria and then later to Lebanon.
His work and teachings inspired his followers to start the Maronite Church after he died.
The relics that were in Brisbane are venerated at the Monastery of St John Maroun in Kfarhay, Lebanon.
They were transported to Brisbane in a reliquary designed by Syrian sculptor Nayef Alwan which shows the face of St Maroun on the cedar of Lebanon underneath a church bell and a cross.
It was the first time the relics of St Maroun have visited Australia, and the visit coincided with his feast day on February 9.
Maronite Bishop of Australia Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay and Maronite Bishop of Batroun Bishop Mounir Khairallah travelled with the relics throughout Australia including in Brisbane.
The relics remained in the Greenslopes church until late on Sunday, February 11, when they were taken to St Charbel’s Church and College, Punchbowl, NSW.
St Maroun’s parish priest Fr Fadi Salame said about 400 people came to venerate the relics over the weekend, and he invited members of the Lebanese Orthodox church, Melkite rite, Ukrainian rite and Coptic Orthodox to pray before the saint’s bones.
Fr Salame said the relics of St Maroun represented 16 centuries of Maronites in the world.
“The relics are important because we still believe in the presence of a saint, and having our patron’s relics here is very significant,” he said.
Maronite Catholic Deborah Barakat said praying before the relics gave her “a greater spiritual link” between Australia and Lebanon, the homeland of the Maronites.
“To me it was really about the reconnection with Lebanon and with here,” Mrs Barakat said.
“Sometimes when we hear relics are coming, we think it’s just another event, but as an Australian Maronite it affected me emotionally and spiritually.
“It was a blessed event.”
Bishop Tarabay confirmed the relics would remain in Sydney at St Maroun’s Cathedral, Redfern, after the tour around Australia.