New Maronite Church: The Church in Antioch] Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. (Acts 11:19)
Mass Hours: Saturday at 5pm or 6pm and Sunday at 10 am
Due to its Lebanese roots, the New Maronite Church, with its stuccoes and domed ceilings, reflects the Eastern style of architecture often found in Lebanon. The impressive paintings in the New Maronite Church not only paint portraits of Jesus, but also reflect a mother’s fear in this current age: war, death and drugs. The exquisite statues and paintings were created by Tese and Lamagna, two commissioned Italian artists. The New Maronite Church sits on the western hills of Nazareth with a gorgeous view of Haifa.
The Maronite Church has a rich religious history. It was started by a monk named Maron who left Antioch in the 300s to move to Syria. He lived in the desert to be cloistered and keep a very ascetic lifestyle. He live this way, dedicated to Jesus, until his death in 410. After he died, many of his followers formed a church, thus starting the Maronite Eastern Catholic Church. They still believed much of the same things as did other Eastern Catholic Churches. Through many political struggles and trials, the Maronite Church maintained a strong presence in much of the East, especially Lebanon.
The Maronite community in Nazareth eventually grew big enough to support a priest and church building. Originally, the Maronite Church in Nazareth was called the Maronite Church of the Annunciation. It was located at the base of the hill, northwest of the Latin Church. It is on the edge of town, near the Mount Precipice, where Christians believe an angry mob chased Jesus to throw him over the edge onto the surrounding jagged rocks.
Originally, the Maronite community came to Nazareth to escape a violent war in Ber’am. They grew strong, as they made their homes around the original church and formed the Maronite Quarter. Rather than in the Maronite Quarter, the New Maronite Church is a little west of Nazareth on the Nabi Si’an Ridge. It is behind the Salesian Church of Jesus the Adolescent.
The New Maronite Church is quite a bit bigger than its predecessor, as it was built to address the religious needs of the growing Maronite community in Nazareth, now numbering over 1200 people. The priest in the New Maronite Church is Father Yussef Issa. Issa studied in Nazareth in his youth and then went on to study theology and philosophy elsewhere. He returned to Jerusalem to complete is clerical studies at the Franciscan Institute there. He has been living in Nazareth since 1979 and leading the New Maronite Church in its observances of the religion.