Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM has been Custos of the Holy Land since May 2004.
He was born in Cologno al Serio, in the diocese and province of Bergamo (Italy), on 21st April 1965 and has been a priest since 15th September 1990.
He put on the Franciscan habit on 5th September 1984, joining the Province of Christ Rex of the Friars Minor of Emilia Romagna. On 14th October 1989 he professed his solemn vows. After the first level of philosophical-theological studies, he took a Bachelor's degree in Theology on 19th June 1990 at the Antonianum Pontifical University in Rome. He carried out post-graduate studies at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem, obtaining a degree in Biblical Theology on 21st June 1993 and then took a Master's degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He was assigned to the Custody of the Holy Land in July 1997. He has taught Biblical Hebrew at the Franciscan Faculty of Biblical Science and Archaeology in Jerusalem and under the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem he has done pastoral work for Hebrew-speaking worshippers. From May 2001 to May 2004, he was the superior of the convent of St. Simeon and St. Anne in Jerusalem, where one of the Hebrew-speaking Catholic communities is based. From 2005 to 2008, he was also Patriarchal Vicar (of Patriarch Michel Sabbah) for Hebrew-speaking Catholics.
On 18th March 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Father Pizzaballa a member for five years of the Commission for Relations with Judaism at the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity.
Benedict XV made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 8th to 15th May 2009 and Father Pizzaballa was part of the official entourage of the Pope. In particular, he welcomed him, with two short speeches, when he visited the Cenacle (on the morning of 12th May) and the Holy Sepulchre (on the morning of 15th May).
From 24th May to 20th June 2009, as Custos of the Holy Land, Father Pizzaballa attended, with 150 other brothers from all over the world, the 187th General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor which was held in Assisi.
In a letter dated 22 May 2010, the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, Fr. José Rodríguez Carballo, reconfirmed Fr. Pizzaballa as head of the Custody of the Holy Land for another three years.
On 27 June 2013, the Minister General of the Friars Minor, Fr. Michael Perry, with the consent of the Holy See, reconfirmed Fr Pizzaballa as Custos of the Holy Land. The term of office expires in 2016.
The Custos is appointed by the General Definitorium (the central government) of the Friars Minor, which is based in Rome. The Holy See approves the appointment according to the Pontifical Statute governing this body of the Order founded by St. Francis of Assisi.
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