died today in Beirut at the age of 92 after suffering a stroke yesterday. The Syrian-born patriarch held the patriarchal throne for 33 years.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Anrioch has his seat in Damascus in the ancient Street Called Straight. (None of the five patriarchs of Antioch of the various Christian denominations still have their seat in the ancient city of Antioch, today's Antakya, Turkey.) In the Greek Orthodox churches the Patriarch of Antioch traditionally ranks third in ceremonial order after the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria. Jerusalem ranks fourth. The Antiochian Patriarch heads the Orthodox communities of the Middle East except for those in Egypt (Alexandria Patriarchate) and Israel, Palestine, and Jordan (Jerusalem Patriarchate).[Update: Before one of my very picky readers brings this up, Saint Catherine's at Mount Sinai is sometimes considered an autocephalous Orthodox church, but its archbishop is consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem.]
The Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch is believed to be the second-largest Christian denomination in the Middle East after Egypt's Copts, with perhaps two million adherents. Over a million are in Syria, where they represent the largest Christian denomination; in Lebanon they are second to the Maronites. The Maronites worldwide, including Western diasporas, may outnumber the Antiochian Orthodox, but no longer do so in the Middle East.
Known for his work among Orthodox youth, Ignatius IV Hazim was a popular leader. He will be buried in Syria.