Particular prominence in one church

Today the promotion of saints who are shared by different Syrian Churches reflects ecumenical concerns and the increasing desire for political cooperation of ethnic Syrians, as well as the efforts of some churches that have suffered considerable acculturation in the past, to rediscover their own roots. The recent liturgical reforms of the Maronite Church have included a revision of the calendar with the result that only a few feasts of Latin origin, which had become particularly popular among the Maronite faithful, remain.

Nevertheless denominational specification cannot be denied. First, there is the fact that some ancient saints are more prominent in one church than in another, and are therefore less well known and celebrated, or even totally neglected. So the martyr Mar Papa, the early fourth-century organizer of the Church of the East, is a particularly East

Syrian saint. Or Mar Maron and his disciple Jacob, ascetics already praised by Theodoret of Cyrrhus, can be called typically Maronite saints. It is of course from Mar Maron that the Maronites take their name.

In a sense, all those later saints of individual churches, who were not involved in doctrinal controversies, might also be counted in this category. The point is that the most popular ascetic figures, martyrs and hierarchs from medieval and modern times, are 'local saints' of a church, and may even be quite 'local' within that church, as explained above. It is not that they are confessional saints, so to speak. Conversely, some of them are even remembered for their conciliatory spirit, for example, the great medieval theologian and canonist of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Grigor bar 'Ebraya, better known as Barhebraeus (1226-86). Such saints do not create ecumenical problems. Of interest is the canonization of the Byzantine Empress Theodora by the Syrian Orthodox Church in 2000, which has secured her place in the calendar of the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

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