February 24, 2011.
Benedict XVI blessed this new sculpture of marble, located outside St. Peter's Basilica. Saint Maron is the most famous Lebanese saint and he's called the father of the Maronites. In his left hand he holds a small Maronite style church and at his feet is an inscription in Syriac of a psalm.Benedict XVI“As the psalm says: 'The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon.'”
The Pope was accompanied by the president of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman and the patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir.
The sculpture is over 15 feet high and weighs 55,000 pounds. It's presence in the Vatican is highly symbolic, St. Maron founded the Maronite Church in the Eastern rite and in communion with Rome.
Cardinal Angelo Comastri said this ceremony is a gesture of affection and gratitude towards the Maronite Church “that has suffered so much over the centuries.”Card. Angelo Comastri
Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica
“This is the last available spot in the outer perimeter of St. Peter's Basilica. Saint Maron, therefore, closes the list of saints that surround the tomb of the Apostle Saint Peter, near the place of his martyrdom on the Vatican hill.”
The Maronite Church commissioned this statue to the Spanish sculptor Marco Augusto Dueñas. This makes his second statue located in St. Peter's. His first was the Spanish saint Rafaela Porras.
Now the Vatican will have to search for a place to put new statues of saints who they wish to recognize here in the heart of Christianity.