Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

(Latin Patriarchal Diocese of Jerusalem)

The Church of Jerusalem was born on the day of Pentecost. It was governed at first by the College of Apostles under the leadership of St. Peter. St. James was the first bishop of Jerusalem. A long line of bishops has followed until this day. The Church of Jerusalem was recognized as a patriarchate by the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

Over the centuries, the various Christian communities in Jerusalem shared a common history and, by and large, lived in harmony among themselves until 451 when, following the Council of Chalcedon, the Orthodox (Greek) separated themselves from the Orthodox Oriental Churches (Coptic, Armenian and Syrian). A second major division came in 1054 when the Churches of the East and those of the West separated from each other. Today, Jerusalem has thirteen Churches with constituted dioceses, six Catholic (Latins, Greek Catholics, Maronites, Syrians, Armenians, and Chaldeans), five Orthodox (Greeks, Armenians, Copts, Syrians, and Ethiopians), and two Protestant (Anglicans and Lutherans).

When the Crusaders arrived in 1099, the Greek Patriarch Simon fled to Cyprus, leaving the See of Jerusalem vacant. Consequently, the Crusaders installed one of their own, Arnulf, as the first Latin Patriarch. The Latin Patriarchs succeeded themselves in Jerusalem from 1099 to 1187, at which time the city fell to Saladin, the Latin Patriarch moved to Acre, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch returned to Jerusalem.

In 1218, the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) opened its first monastery in St. John of Acre, thus becoming the oldest Roman Catholic institution in the Holy Land. When Acre fell in 1291, the Latin Patriarchs moved to Cyprus, then, in 1374, to Rome where they succeeded themselves as Titular Patriarchs until 1847. During their absence, the constant presence of the Franciscans in the Holy Land was a determining factor in the preservation, formation and growth of the local Catholic Church.

On July 23, 1847, the Patriarchal See of Jerusalem was restored as a residential see by the Apostolic Letter of Pius IX, Nulla Celebrior. The first to occupy the post, Patriarch Giuseppe Valerga, arrived in Jerusalem on January 17, 1848 and took possession of his see by solemnly entering the Holy Sepulcher, the cathedral of the Patriarchs of Jerusalem.

Latin Patriarchs since the restoration in 1847:
H.B. Patriarch Giuseppe Valerga – 1847-1872
H.B. Patriarch Vincenzo Bracco- 1873-1889
H.B. Patriarch Luigi Piavi, O.F.M. – 1889-1905
H.B. Patriarch Filippo Camassei – 1907-1919
H.B. Patriarch Luigi Barlassina – 1920-1947
H.B. Patriarch Alberto Gori, O.F.M. – 1949-1970
H.B. Patriarch Giacomo Beltritti – 1970-1987
H.B. Patriarch Michel Sabbah – 1987-2008
H.B. Patriarch Fouad Twal – 2008-2016

Apostolic Administrator Sede Vacante: H.E. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M. 2016-present


Grand Magisterium – Vatican

Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

The Holy See

Custodia Terrae Sanctae

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