A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ignatius IV, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Dies at 92

Ignatius IV Hazim, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East (also sometimes translated "and the Levant"), 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.


David Mack said...

Thanks, I have friends who follow ecclesiastical politics in the Middle East, so I pass such posts along. Got positive feed back for your posts on the Coptic Pope, a subject the mainstream U.S. media nearly ignored.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

David: If you're recommending the post to friends "who follow ecclesiastical politics" please note I've added an update before some church lawyer brings up the odd status of Saint Catherine's in Mount Sinai.