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The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem is the title possessed by the Latin Rite Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalemmarker. The Archdiocese of Jerusalem has jurisdiction for all Latin Rite Catholics in Israelmarker, Palestine, Jordanmarker and Cyprusmarker. In Jerusalem, the Catholic community is the largest Christian community, with some 4,500 people out of an estimated Christian population of about 11,000. Since June 2008, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has been Fouad Twal. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem also holds the office of Grand Prior of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

In the Catholic Church, the title Patriarch is customarily reserved to the highest ranking bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Patriarch of Jerusalem is one of three bishops of the Latin Rite to be called a patriarch, the others being the Patriarchs of Venice, Lisbon and the East Indies (Goa, India). These 'minor patriarchs' are bishops whose see has as a permanent privilege the honorific title of patriarch. The honorary patriarchal titles Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch were abolished in 1964. The title of Patriarch of Jerusalem is also used by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Crusader patriarchate

In 1054, the Great Schism split Christianity into the Eastern Orthodox Church - which consisted of the four Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople and Alexandria - under the jurisdiction of Constantinoplemarker and the Roman Catholic Church - which consisted of the Pope of Rome. All Christians in the Holy Land came under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.

In 1099, the Crusaders captured Jerusalemmarker, set up the Kingdom of Jerusalem and established a Latin hierarchy under a Latin Patriarch, and expelled the Greek Orthodox Patriarch. The Latin Patriarchate was divided into four archdioceses - their heads bearing the titles of Archbishop of Tyre, Archbishop of Caesarea, Archbishop of Nazareth, and Archbishop of Petra - and a number of suffragan dioceses. The Latin Patriarch took over control of the Latin quarter of the city of Jerusalem (the Holy Sepulchremarker and the immediate surroundings), and had as his direct suffragans the bishops of Lydda-Ramla, Bethlehemmarker, Hebron, and Gazamarker, and the abbots of the Templemarker, Mount Sion, and the Mount of Olivesmarker.

The Latin Patriarch resided in Jerusalem from 1099 to 1187, while Greek Patriarchs continued to be appointed, but resided in Constantinoplemarker. In 1187, the Crusaders were forced to flee Jerusalem, and the Latin Patriarchy moved to Acremarker, while the Greek Patriarch returned to Jerusalem. The Catholic Church continued to appoint Latin Patriarchs. The Crusader Kingdom endured almost 200 years until the last vestiges of the Kingdom were conquered by the Mamluks in 1291, and the Latin hierarchy was effectively eliminated in the Levant. With the fall of Acre, the Latin Patriarch moved to Cyprusmarker in 1291. From 1374, the Catholic Church continued to appoint titular Patriarchs of Jerusalem, who were based at the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Muramarker in Romemarker.

In 1342, Pope Clement VI officially committed the care of the Holy Land to the Franciscans and the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Lands (The Grand Masters of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre) held the title ex officio under the Papal bull Gratiam agimus by Pope Clement VI, unless someone was specifically appointed to the honorary office.

Modern patriarchate

A resident Latin Patriarch was re-established in 1847 by Pius IX, with Bishop Joseph Valerga being appointed to the office. Though officially superseding the Franciscans, Valerga was also the Grand Master of the Order. On Valerga's death in 1872, Vincent Braco was appointed, and following his death in 1889, the Ottoman Sultan authorised the re-establishment of a Latin hierarchy. The Grand Masters of the Order continued to be named as Latin Patriarchs until 1905.

In 1987, Michel Sabbah became the first native Palestinian to be appointed Latin Patriarch. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem is now the diocesan bishop of Latin Catholics of the Archdiocese of Jerusalem and has jurisdiction for all Latin Rite Catholics in Israelmarker, the Palestinian territoriesmarker, Jordanmarker and Cyprusmarker. Since 2008, the Patriarch has been Fouad Twal from Jordan.

The Co-Cathedral is the principal, or "mother" Church of the Latin Patriarchate, the church in which the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has his official chair (cathedra). However, the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchremarker has the title of cathedral of the patriarchate. The residence of the Patriarch is in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the seat wanted by Pius IX the same of the Co-Cathedral, while the seminary, which is responsible for the liturgical education, is in Beit Jalamarker, a town 10 km south of Jerusalem, where it has been since 1936.

The prerogatives of the Patriarch in his relation with government authorities overlap with the prerogatives of the Vaticanmarker Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic delegate to the Palestinian Authority, following the Fundamental Agreement between Israel and the Vatican signed on 30 December 1993.

List of Latin Patriarchs of Jerusalem

Jerusalem lost in 1187; seat of the Patriarch moved to Acremarker.

Acre lost in 1291; moved to Cyprus then Rome after 1374; only honorary patriarchs until 1847.

The Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land held the title from 1342 to 1830 under the Papal bull Gratiam agimus by Pope Clement VI (unless someone was specifically appointed in the honorary office). The bull declared the Franciscans as the official custodians of the Holy Places in the name of the Catholic Church.

Restoration of resident Latin Patriarchs of Jerusalem in 1847.

Latin patriarchate hierarchy re-established in 1889.

See also


  1. Jerusalem Post, May 8, 2009 - Depths of despair
  2. Pope Names Arch. Fouad Twal Patriarch of Jerusalem - Vatican Radio 21/6/08
  4. The Bull of Clement VI (1342)

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