Michel Sabbah

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  • Michel Sabbah
  • ميشيل صباح
Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem
Appointed11 December 1987
Installed6 January 1988
Term ended21 June 2008
PredecessorGiacomo Giuseppe Beltritti
SuccessorFouad Boutros Twal
Ordination29 June 1955
by Alberto Gori
Consecration6 January 1988
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Born (1933-03-19) 19 March 1933 (age 91)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Styles of
Patriarch Michael Sabbah
Reference styleHis Beatitude
Spoken styleYour Beatitude
Religious styleMonsignor
Posthumous stylen/a

Michel Sabbah (Arabic: ميشيل صباح; born 19 March 1933) is a Palestinian Catholic prelate who served as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1987 to 2008, the first non-Italian to hold the position in more than five centuries.


Sabbah was born in Nazareth, Mandatory Palestine. He began his priestly studies at the Latin Patriarchal Seminary of Beit Jala in October 1949 and was ordained a priest for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in June 1955.[citation needed]


He was a parish priest for a few years before being sent to the University of St. Joseph in Beirut, Lebanon, to study Arabic language and literature. Shortly thereafter, he became director of schools for the Latin Patriarchate. He served in that position until the Arab-Israeli war in 1967. Sabbah then moved to Djibouti to teach Arabic and Islamic studies until 1973, when he began doctoral studies in Arabic philology at the Sorbonne. In 1980, he was named President of the Bethlehem University. In 1987, Pope John Paul II appointed him Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, making him the first native Palestinian to hold the office in centuries.[citation needed]

From 1999-2007, Sabbah was the International President of Pax Christi, a Catholic organisation promoting peace.[citation needed]

Sabbah resigned as Patriarch on 19 March 2008, after reaching the age of 75, the age of retirement. Sabbah served as the Grand Prior of the chivalric Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, one of the knightly orders founded in 1099.[citation needed] On 11 December 2009, Sabbah together with other prominent Palestinian Christian leaders launched the Kairos Palestine Document against Israeli occupation.[citation needed]

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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Succeeded by
Preceded by International President of Pax Christi
Succeeded by