Maronites throughout the region celebrate the feast of Saint Maroun on Tuesday. Annually, on Feb. 9, adherents to the sect remember their founder. As the largest Christian group in Lebanon, the Maronite community has long had a significant influence on Lebanese society as well as within the broader Levant region. So, in honor of the holiday, we thought we'd share some facts about the sect that you might not know.

1. The sect is officially called the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch

2. Syriac or "Christian Aramaic" remains the liturgical language of the church

3. Maronites trace the foundation of their church to the 4th century

4. The sects founder, Saint Maroun, was a Syriac monk

5. Saint Maroun's exact burial spot is debated, although the conflicting sources point to locations in Syria

6. Currently, significant populations of Maronites live mainly in Lebanon but also in Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus

7. Dioceses also exist in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Oceania because of the diaspora communities from the Levant region

8. The church has 26 eparchies and patriarchal vicariates throughout the world

9. The global Maronite population has been estimated to be more than 3 million

10. Although the largest population of Maronites exists in present-day Lebanon, the sect's origins began in present-day Syria

11. While Maronites are considered an Eastern Catholic Church, the sect is in full communion with the pope and follows the Antiochene tradition of catholicism

12. The Maronite Patriarchal Assembly (2003-2004) identified five distinguishing marks of the sect

  1. It is Antiochene.
  2. It is Chalcedonian, in that the Maronites were strong supporters of the Council of Chalcedon of 451.
  3. It is Patriarchal and Monastic.
  4. It is faithful to the See of Peter in Rome.
  5. It has strong ties to her spiritual homeland of Lebanon

13. Pope Benedict XVI unveiled a statue of Saint Maroun in 2011 at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican

14. Unlike many Catholic sects, Maronite priests are not strictly celibate

15. The current head of the Maronite Church is Cardinal Beshara Rai