Maronites (mârˈənĪts) [key], Lebanese Christian community, in communion with the pope. By emigration they have spread to Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt, South America, and the United States and now number about one million. Their liturgy (said mainly in liturgical Syriac) is of the Antiochene type, with innovations taken from the Latin rite. Their ecclesiastical head, under the pope, is called patriarch of Antioch; he lives in Lebanon. As in other Eastern rites, the parish priests are usually married. The Maronites have been a distinct community since the 7th cent., when they separated in the doctrinal dispute over Monotheletism; they returned to communion with the pope in the 12th cent. In the 19th cent., massacres of Maronites by the Druze brought French intervention; this gave France a hold in Lebanon and Syria. Besides the Maronites there are two other groups in Syria in communion with the pope—the Melchites and the Syrian Catholics.
See D. Attwater, The Christian Churches of the East, Vol. I (1947).