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ST. MARO, ABBOT
From Theodoret Philoth. c. 16, 22, 24, 30, Tillem. t. 12, p. 412. Le Quien, Oriens Christ. t. 3, p. 5. Jos Assemani Bibl. Orient. t.1, p. 497.
A. D. 433.
ST. MARO made choice of a solitary abode on a mountain in the diocese of Syria and near that city, where, out of a spirit of mortification, he lived for the most part in the open air. He had indeed a little hut, covered with goat skins, to shelter him from the inclemencies of the weather; but he very seldom made use of it for that purpose, even on the most urgent occasions. Finding here a heathen temple, he dedicated it to the true God, and made it his house of prayer. Being renowned for sanctity, he was raised, in 405 to the dignity of priesthood. St. Chrysostom, who had a singular regard for him, wrote to him from Cucusus, the place of his banishment, and recommended himself to his prayers, and begged to hear from him by every opportunity.
St. Zebinus, our saint’s master, surpassed all the solitaries of his time, with regard to assiduity in prayer. He devoted to this exercise whole days and nights, without being sensible of any weariness or fatigue: nay, his ardor for it seemed rather to increase than slacken by its continuance. He generally prayed in an erect posture; but in his old age was forced to support his body by leaning on a staff. He gave advice in very few words to those that came to see him, to gain the more time for heavenly contemplation. St. Maro imitated his constancy in prayer: yet he not only received all visitants with great tenderness, but encouraged their stay with him; though few were willing to pass the whole night in prayer standing. God recompensed his labors with most abundant graces, and the gift of curing all distempers, both of body and mind. He prescribed admirable remedies against all vices. This drew great multitudes to him, and he erected many monasteries in Syria, and trained up holy solitaries. Theodoret, bishop of Cyr, says, that the great number of monks who peopled his diocese were the1 fruit of his instructions. The chief among his disciples was St. James of Cyr, who gloried that he had received from the hands of St. Maro his first hair-cloth.
God called St. Maro to his glory after a short illness, which showed, says Theodoret, the great weakness to which his body was reduced. A pious contest ensued among the neighboring provinces about his burial. The inhabitants of a large and populous place carried off the treasure, and built to his honor a spacious church over his tomb, to which a monastery was adjoined, which seems to have been the monastery of St. Maro in the diocese of Apamea.*