Catholic Church in Israel

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Church of All Nations, Jerusalem

The Catholic Church in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, in full communion with the bishop of Rome.


The Catholic Church originates in the area that is now Israel and the Palestinian Territories, tracing its origins to the local Church of Jerusalem described in the Acts of the Apostles, formed by the earliest followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born in Bethlehem, lived in the Galilee, and was crucified in Jerusalem, where Christians believe he also resurrected.The Church of Jerusalem is considered the "mother church" of all Christianity.

Christianity's holiest shrine, the Church of the Resurrection, is located in Jerusalem, as are many of the sites associated with the life of Jesus and the earliest Christians.

There are approximately 200,000 Christians in Israel[1] and the Palestinian Territories,[2] representing about 1.5% of the total population. The largest Catholic Churches include 64,400 Greek Melkite Catholics, 32,200 Latin Catholics, and 11,270 Maronite Catholics.[3][4]

Jurisdictions of seven of the Catholic Churches overlap in Israel: The Armenian, Chaldean, Greek Melkite, Latin (Roman), Maronite, and Syriac. The Coptic Catholic patriarchate also has representation here. In addition, the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, the Territorial Prelature of the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem, and the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei have jurisdictional presence in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The Holy See is represented by the Apostolic Nuncio in Jaffa-Tel Aviv for Israel and the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem for Palestine.

About 85% of the Catholics in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are Arabic-speaking. In addition to a handful of chaplaincies for expatriate clergy, pilgrims, and workers, there is also a vicariate within the Latin Patriarchate ministering to Hebrew Catholics, i.e., non-Arab converts to Catholicism of Hebrew descent, or Hebrew-speaking Catholics born to immigrant workers, often from the Philippines.[5]

Local jurisdictions


Particular jurisdictions

  • The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land has care of most of the Christian holy sites and shrines under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church.
  • The Territorial Prelature of the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem is considered an Ecumenical Holy Place and pilgrim hostel, under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See, but in the care of the Legion of Christ since November 2004.
  • The Personal prelature of Opus Dei has a small regional vicariate in Jerusalem. Its members are under the jurisdiction of the prelature, though no territory is.[10]

Parishes and communities

There are currently 103 Catholic parishes in Israel and the Palestinian Territories:

  • 43 Latin
  • 43 Greek Melkite
  • 14 Maronite
  • 2 Syrian
  • 1 Armenian

There are additionally 8 language chaplaincies and 7 ethnic pastoral centers within the Latin Patriarchate:

  • 4 Hebrew-speaking
  • 2 German-speaking
  • 1 English-speaking
  • 1 French-speaking
  • 2 Filipino communities
  • 2 Russian communities
  • 1 African community
  • 1 Polish community
  • 1 Romanian community

Representatives of the Holy See

Main article: Holy See–Palestine relations

The Holy See is currently represented by an Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and an Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem of Palestine. At this time, the same person fulfills both offices, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto. He also serves as Nuncio to Cyprus.

In June 1762, a diplomatic relationship was established in Ottoman Syria, including the region of Palestine.[11]

In March 1929, the diplomatic brief for British Palestine was attached to the Delegate to Cairo.

On 11 February 1948, with the Papal brief Supreme Pastoris, Pope Pius XII erected the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem of Palestine, Transjordan and Cyprus.[12]

In December 1993, the Holy See and the State of Israel formally established diplomatic relations, establishing the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel.[13]

Supra-diocesan structures

Episcopal conferences

The Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land was established at the initiative of the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem to foster unity within the Catholic Churches of the Holy Land, in 1992.

The regional episcopal conference for the Latin bishops is the Conference of the Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions (CELRA), which was established in 1967.

Ecumenical participation

The Middle East Council of Churches represents 14 million Christians in the Middle East, covering 14 countries and including representatives from 27 churches or jurisdictions (3 Oriental Orthodox, 4 Eastern Orthodox, 7 Catholic, and 13 Protestant/Evangelical).

The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem[14] is a gathering of the patriarchs and other ordinaries of 13 of the local Christian churches in Jerusalem, including Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, Latin Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches.

Religious institutes

There are 1,764 members of religious orders and institutes of consecrated life in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

The oldest of these is the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, established as a province here in 1217.

They are represented by the Committee of the Religious Men of the Holy Land[15] and the Union of Religious Superiors of Women in the Holy Land.[16]

Male Religious

There are 540 male religious, representing the following congregations:

Female Religious

There are 1079 female religious, from the following congregations:

Other Institutes of Consecrated Life

There are 145 members of other institutes of consecrated life:

Lay organizations and institutes

Catholic scouting and youth ministry

  • 2500 members in 16 troops of the Catholic Scout Association in Israel
  • 2500 members in 12 troops of the Palestinian Catholic Scouts of Saint John the Baptist
  • Young Catholic Students (Jeunesse Etudiante Catholic)

Lay ecclesial movements

Medical and social services

There are:

  • 9 charitable and humanitarian organizations
  • 7 hospitals
  • 7 centers for the disabled
  • 6 orphanages
  • 5 homes for the elderly

Military and hosptialler orders

Universities and educational institutes

There are, additionally, 71 primary and secondary schools


Pilgrimage services

  • Christian Information Centre, founded 1973.[17]
  • Episcopal Commission for Christian Pilgrimages[18]
  • Franciscan Pilgrim's Office, founded 2009.[19]
  • Latin Patriarchate Pilgrimages[20]

Shrines and holy sites

  • Church of the Resurrection, Jerusalem - Franciscans share custody of Christianity's holiest site along with the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Syriac Orthodox Churches.
  • Bethphage, Jerusalem, Franciscans
  • Cenacle, Jerusalem, Franciscans
  • Dominus Flevit, Jerusalem, Franciscans
  • Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem, Benedictines
  • Flagellation Church, Jerusalem, Franciscans
  • Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem, Franciscans
  • Pater Noster Church, Jerusalem,Carmelite Nuns
  • St. Anne Church, Jerusalem, Missionaries of Africa
  • St. Peter in Gallicantu, Jerusalem, Assumptionists
  • St. Stephen Church, Jerusalem, Dominicans
  • Via Dolorosa 3rd Station, Jerusalem, Armenian Catholics
  • Via Dolorosa 4th Station, Jerusalem, Armenian Catholics
  • Via Dolorosa 5th Station, Jerusalem, Franciscans
  • Via Dolorosa 6th Station, Jerusalem, Little Sisters of Jesus
  • Via Dolorosa 7th Station, Jerusalem, Franciscans
  • Emmaus of the Crusaders, Abu Gosh, Benedictines
  • Shepherd's Field, Beit Sahour, Franciscans
  • St. Lazarus, Bethany, Franciscans
  • Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Franciscans
  • Milk Grotto, Bethlehem, Franciscans
  • First Miracle Church, Cana, Franciscans
  • House of Peter, Capernaum, Franciscans
  • Church of the Visitation, Ein Karem, Franciscans
  • St. John in the Desert, Ein Karem, Franciscans
  • Stella Maris, Haifa, Carmelites
  • Baptism of Our Lord, Jordan River, Franciscans
  • Emmaus Nicoplis, Latrun, Betharram/Beatitudes
  • Duc in Altum, Migdal, Legion of Christ
  • Sermon on the Mount, Mount of Beatitudes, Franciscan Sisters of IHM
  • Sacrifice of Elijah, Muhraqa, Carmelites
  • Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Franciscans
  • Church of St. Joseph, Nazareth, Franciscans
  • Synagogue, Nazareth, Greek Melkite Catholics
  • Emmaus Qubeibeh, Qubeibeh, Franciscans
  • Church of Nicodemus, Ramleh, Franciscans
  • Multiplication of the Loaves, Tabgha, Benedictines
  • Primacy of Peter, Tabgha, Franciscans
  • Transfiguration, Mount Tabor, Franciscans
  • House of Parables, Taybeh,
  • Church of St. Peter, Tiberias, Koinonia Giovanni Battista

Pilgrimage centers in Jerusalem

Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
  • Armenian Guest House
  • Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family
  • Casa Nova, Franciscan
  • Dom Polski (Musrara)
  • Dom Polski (Old City)
  • Ecce Homo, Sisters of Sion
  • Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
  • Knight's Palace
  • Maison d'Abraham
  • Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
  • Paulus-Haus
  • Rosary Sisters (Mamila)
  • Rosary Sisters (Old City)
  • Saint Charles German Hospice
  • Saint Maroun Guesthouse
  • Saint Thomas Center
  • Tantur Ecumenical Institute

Pilgrimage centers in Bethlehem

  • Betharram Center
  • Casa Nova, Franciscan
  • Casa Nova - Orient Palace
  • Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
  • Saint Joseph Home
  • Saint Vincent Guest House

Pilgrim's decorations

Popes, saints, martyrs

Saints and Martyrs

Unnamed martyrs

  • 33 Martyrs, c.70 (Feast: 16 August)
  • Monks slain by Arab invaders, c.410 (Feast: 28 May)
  • Hermits slain by Saracen invaders, c.509 (Feast: 19 February)
  • 1500 Martyrs of Samaria, c.614 (Feast: 22 June)
  • 44 hermits of St. Sabbas Monastery, c.614 (Feast: 16 May)


The Bishops of Rome who were born in, or first ministered in, the Holy Land:

See also


  1. "Statistical Abstract of Israel 2010". Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Bailey, Betty Jane; Bailey, J. Martin (2003). Who are the Christians in the Middle East?. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. pp. 150–158. ISBN 0802810209.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Collings, Rania Al Qass; Kassis, Rifat Odeh; Raheb, Mitri (2008). Palestinian Christians: Facts, Figures and Trends. Bethlehem: Diyar Consortium. pp. 6–12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Hebrew-Speaking Christians". Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Christians.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Maronite Exarchate of Jerusalem". MaroniteJerusalem.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Armenian Exarchate of Jerusalem". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Syriac Exarchate of Jerusalem". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Chaldean Exarchate". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Opus Dei". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Nunciature to Syria".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Apostolic Delegate". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Fundamental Accord". The Holy See.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Heads of Churches in Jerusalem". Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Religious Men". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Religious Women". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Home Page". Christian Information Center.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Episcopal Commission for Christian Pilgrimages". Catholic Church of the Holy Land.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Pilgrims' Office". Basilica of the Annunciation.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Pilgrimages". Latin Patriarchate.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Pilgrim's Shell". Northwest Lieutenancy, EOHSJ.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Piolgrim's Cross". Custody of the Holy Land.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links