Les Custodes dans l'histoire | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Les Custodes dans l'histoire

Le Custode de Terre Sainte de 1937 à 2016

Profils extraites de la publication récente: B. Talatinian, I Custodi di Terra Santa dal 1937 al 2004. Appunti di cronaca, Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem 2005. 258pp. Ills. $20

  • 155. Sua Beatitudine Mons. Alberto Gori (22.02.1937-21.11.1949)
  • 156. Rev.Mo P. Giacinto Maria Faccio (26.01.1950-05.12.1955)
  • 157. Rev.Mo P. Angelico Lazzeri (00.08.1955-11.06.1957)
  • 158. Rev.Mo Alfredo Polidori (05.07.1957-14.06.1962)
  • 159. Rev.Mo P. Vincenzo Cappiello (25.05.1962-17.08.1968)
  • 160. Rev.Mo P. Alfonso Calabrese (06.07.1968-07.05.1969)
  • 161. Rev.Mo P. Erminio Roncari (14.05.1969-17.05.1974)
  • 162. Rev.Mo P. Maurilio Sacchi (14.05.1974-04.11.1980)
  • 163. Rev.Mo P. Ignazio Mancini (05.11.1980-27.05.1986)
  • 164. Rev.Mo P. Carlo Cecchitelli (24.04.1986-08.05.1992)
  • 165. Rev.Mo P. Giuseppe Nazzaro (10.04.1992-01.16.1998)
  • 166. Rev.Mo P. Giovanni Battistelli (04.04.1998-02.06.2004)
  • 167. Rev.Mo P. Pierbattista Pizzaballa (05.05.2004-20.05.2016)

VERY REVEREND FATHER GIACINTO M. FACCIO O.F.M Custos of the Holy Land (26.01.1950 - 05.12.1955) Of the Venetian province of St. Anthony of Padua (Start of his rule: 11.02.1950).

Rev.mo padre Giacinto M. Faccio OFM

His life is the testimony that God, whilst respecting human freedom, intervenes in the life of men. Father Giacinto’s dream was to go to China, but his superiors immediately wanted him to enter further education for the needs of the Province and the war kept him in the Holy Land. His long life came to an end in the Orient. A few months after his tenth birthday, Father Giacinto entered the college of Lonigo, where he stayed until 1927 when he was transferred to the convent of Barbarano in Vicenza for the year of the novitiate which he concluded with his Simple Profession, on 18th September 1928. He completed his gymnasium studies in various convents of the Province: Padua, Verona and Motta di Livenza and when he finished, he made his Solemn Profession on 28th July 1933. He was ordained a priest in the church of St. Ignatius in Rome on 19th July 1936. When they saw his academic results, the superiors immediately sent him to the Pontifical University Antonianum, and not to China as he would have liked, to study theology, graduating summa cum laude in 1939 with the title of Doctor in Theology and General Reader in Holy Scripture after discussing his thesis ’De Divinitate Christi iuxta S. Paulum ad Rom. 9,5’. Sent to the Studium Biblicum of the Flagellation to specialize in the Bible, he studied there between 1939 and 1940, obtaining the diploma of General Reader in Holy Scripture.

When the Second World War broke out, the superiors asked him to return to Italy. He went to Haifa to board ship, but as Italy had entered the war, he was arrested by the British police. Released thanks to Father Eugenio Hoade, he was sent for a few days to the monastery of the Carmelite Fathers on Mount Carmel and then taken to the concentration camp of Emmaus on 5th October 1940. Here in the general attempt not to be overwhelmed by the events, activities and courses were organized for the novices of philosophy and theology. Father Giacinto was asked to teach Moral Theology, Scripture and Canon law. 

This is how he unofficially began service in the Custody which was to be recognized officially on 7th November 1941, whilst the religious were still in the concentration camp. In 1943, the religious of Emmaus could return to normal life in their convents. Father Giacinto was sent to Bethlehem to teach Scripture, Dogma and Mysticism and as the Master of novices; he stayed there until October 1949, when he was transferred with the students to St. Saviour. He left teaching on 26th January 1950 when he was appointed Custos of the Holy Land, holding that position until 5th December 1955. It was a period of great activity and intense building throughout the Custody, which was incredible considering that a tragic and exhausting war had just come to an end. One event occupied a special place in the heart and mind of Father Giacinto, who was greatly devoted to the Virgin Mary: the laying of the first stone of the Basilica of Nazareth, independently of the plan that was to be approved..

After his term
At the end of his arduous term of office and a brief period in Bethphage and Amman, he arrived in Egypt on 25th October 1956 as guardian and parish priest of St. Catherine, in Alexandria. He was to alternate this post, more than once, with St. Joseph’s in Cairo. In 1976 he returned to St. Catherine’s, this time to teach the novices. Alongside the tasks assigned to him by the Custody, including as Delegate for Egypt, he held various other posts. He was the Delegate of Monsignor Cayer for Upper Egypt and then Delegate of Monsignor Sampieri for the Vicariates of Alexandria, Port Said and Heliopolis. For many years of his time in Egypt, he was President of the Ecclesiastical Court of the First Instance. He was greatly appreciated in this post for being able to combine a respect for the law with a sense of humanity.

He was transferred to Nazareth with the Chapter of 1986. Perhaps he must have received pressure from those who advised him to devote the last years of his life to the contemplative vocation in meditation and prayer in Nazareth and those who thought he was still needed in Egypt. He wrote to the Father Custos: "I have nothing to give up, I have never given up anything and I will have never have anything to give up in the future." He only asked for clarification because: "Having known the will of God, I will perform it with joy." He returned to Egypt, first to St. Catherine’s and then to Bacos, in Alexandria. With the separation of the region of Lower Egypt from the Custody of the Holy Land, he was advised to stay in Egypt to continue his testimony as a Franciscan in the region he had served for almost 40 years. He opted for the Vice Province of Egypt. A religious of convinced humility, he did not pay attention to the praise of men. He wrote to a Custos: "Old Adam tends to show himself, to stand out, to emerge and at times to excel to become an Excellence. Each person has his charisma!… You remind me that the path to go upwards is that to go downwards… in view of a greater good." However, in this too he remained faithful to his motto "ask for nothing, refuse nothing." He accepted honours from men. First that of the Spanish government of the “Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic", on 12th June 1955, followed by that of “Officer in the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy” on 20th February 1963.

The history of men passes, but some fundamental aspects of their lives will always be remembered. The memory of Father Faccio’s goodness will be remembered for a long time. The man of prayer became a sign for his faithful, who often saw him appear in church for a brief or long moment of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Devoted to the Virgin Mary, he constantly kept a rosary in his hand. He was a conscientious parish priest and with the same commitment he looked after the liturgy and visited the sick and in particular the dying. He did not neglect the religious communities and was always ready for days of retreat and confessions. A man who hungered after Paradise. Paradise was the litany he often recited, as a profound desire for all the saints in heaven, the Holy Mother of God, gathered around the throne of the Holy Trinity. He died in Meadi, Cairo, on 19th January 2003.


Custos of the Holy Land (29.05.1962 - 17.08.1968) of the Custody of the Holy Land (Start of his rule: 14.06.1962).

He was born on 1st January 1919 in Meta di Sorrento, in the province of Naples. He was a pupil of the Santa Chiara Franciscan College in Naples until 1932 and then attended the one in Emmaus until 1935, where he completed his gymnasium studies. He went to Nazareth as a Franciscan novice on 14th September 1935; after having made his simple profession on 15th September 1936, he was transferred to the Bethlehem convent to study philosophy from 1936 to 1939. On 24th March 1940, still in Bethlehem, he was admitted to the Solemn Profession. He studied theology in Bethlehem for a year (1939-1940) and for three more years in Emmaus, where the Italian Franciscans were interned during the Second World War. He was ordained a priest on 6th January 1944 under the hands of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Mons. Luigi Barlassina in the Cathedral of the Patriarchate.

He took a degree in Canon Law in Washington in 1951 at the Catholic University of America. His thesis, "De Ordinariorum dispensandi facultate ad normam can. 81", was published in Alexandria the following year. He was sent to Egypt, where he held the following positions: officer of the Apostolic Vicariate of Alexandria (1951-1956); chancellor of the same Vicariate on several occasions; Delegate Vicar from 1954 to 1956; Superior and parish priest of Maadi, near Cairo, from 1956 to 1962.

After his term of office

After his term as Custos, Father Lino stayed in Rome where he was appointed to settle the bureaucratic problems concerning the new Terra Sancta College. At the end of 1968 he was elected a member of the Italian Commission for the presentation of the new General Constitutions. At the end of this appointment, he returned to the Holy Land and was based at the Terra Sancta College, waiting for the "Christian Information Centre" to be completed, of which he was to become director.

On 27th April 1971, at the Terra Sancta College of Jerusalem, after dinner, whilst he was enjoying some recreation, Father Lino had a heart attack and died almost immediately, assisted by two brothers who were there with him. He was 52 years old.

He was buried in our cemetery on Mount Zion, but on the request of his brother Filippo, his bones were taken to Meta di Sorrento in 1989.


Custos of the Holy Land (06.07.1968 - 07.05.1969) of the Custody of the Holy Land

Father Alfonso Calabrese suddenly returned his spirit to God on 9th August 1974 at the Delegation of Rome.

Born in Ferentino (province of Frosinone) on 12/9/1917, Father Calabrese, after his secondary school studies in Naples and Emmaus, entered the novitiate on 14/9/1935 in Nazareth. 
He had made his simple profession in Nazareth on 15/9/1936 and his solemn profession in Bethlehem on 8/12/1939 at the end of the philosophical three-year period. Sent by his superiors to Italy due to a serious form of diabetes from which he was never to recover, he had been ordained priest on 28/6/1942 in Cori (Province of Latina) towards the end of the theological course.

From 1942 until his death he stayed in Milan where he had conceived – and in 1951 officially founded, during the Custodianship of the Very Rev. Father P. Faccio — the "Centro Propaganda e Stampa" for the Commissaries of the Holy Land of which he was the Director until he passed away. Elected Custos of the Holy Land on 6/7/1968 by the General Definitorium o.f.m., it was impossible for him to take up the prestigious and delicate appointment due to his already precarious state of health, which suddenly worsened. He nevertheless continued to direct the "Centro" of Milan. 

In the years he spent in our midst with a smile in his heart and on his lips, Father Calabrese took care to continuously lay a veil of modesty over the gifts he had received from the Lord, over an intelligence that hated convoluted paths, over a living and working faith, over a Eucharistic and Marian faith that was so simple as to be surprising at times and over charity that ignored limits and tiredness, Whilst "the king’s secret it is prudent to keep, but the works of God are to be declared and made known "(Tobit 12,7). 

Therefore, for those who do not know, they will learn and for those who know and will be pleased to recall, the following list is a rapid overview of the works by Father Calabrese in the service of the Custody of the Holy Land, leaving for the celestial book the life and jealous memory of those who benefited, believers and non-believers, near and far, simple and educated, from the good that this devoted son of the Custody sowed in their hearts day after day.

Faithful to the main aim for which he had wanted it, Father Calabrese put the Milan "Centro" at the service of the Italian and, when required, foreign Commissariats of the Holy Land, stimulating, helping and assisting the activity of these invaluable bodies that give impulse to missionary life. This explains the “Congresses”, the series of which, begun in Assisi in 19027 under the auspices of the Minister General of the Order, and of the Custos of the Holy Land, continued in 1933 in Grottaferrata, became established in 1946 in Assisi and became a tradition in 1951 and 1954 in Rome, in 1958 again in Assisi, once more in Rome in 1971, after an interval which in 1969 saw Commissaries and Deputy Commissaries, not only from Italy but from all over the world, gathered together in Nazareth, in Madrid — in 1970 — the Commissary Fathers of Spain; meetings in 1970 and 1971 with the Commissary Fathers of the United States, Canada and Central and South America, and various parts of Europe.

This also explains the Courses of Spiritual Exercises, the missionary refresher courses and the specialized meetings held in Assisi, Verona, Milan and Rome in 1955, 1956, 1958 and 1964 for the Brothers who with such great love and commitment perform their mission in the Commissariats. This also explains the over twenty million items of propaganda material published in the form of maps of the Holy Land, posters for the Pro Holy Places Day, leaflets, brochures, booklets, holy images (the splendid multilingual series in colour “Flowers of the Holy Land” is now almost out of print), postcards (a series in black and white with 40 different subjects, another series in colour with 36 subjects, a third one – multilingual and again in colour, of 50 subjects, with Biblical phrases). This explains the hundreds of thousands of religious objects illustrating the Sanctuaries of the Holy Sepulchre, the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Visitation in the form of pictures, medallions, crosses, badges, key-rings and plaques for cars. 

Father Calabrese’s love and devotion for the Custody made him do everything for all the missionary Friars operating in Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Cyprus and Rhodes. He also always met their requests, as far as possible, from the most simple ones to the most difficult and complicated, from the strictly personal problems, to issues on worship and the apostolate. Only God knows how Father Alfondo did his utmost for the artistic completion of the Basilica of Nazareth. The wisdom and exquisite sensitivity with which he used the means of social communication to spread knowledge and love for the Land of Jesus is no mystery.

For example "Eco di Terra Santa", which was published every two months, in thirteen editions for the Commissariats of Italy and Malta, and the Almanac of the Holy Land, or "Pietro ritorna", published in 1965 in Italian, French and English on the Pilgrimage of His Holiness Paul VI to the Holy Land. There was also the "Guide to the Holy Land" by Father Donato Baldi, which in 1973 had its second edition (after the original) with four reprints and about 50,000 copies and the "Message of Mary of Nazareth" by Father Marco Adinolfi, published in 1973 in Italian, English, French, Spanish and German (twenty thousand copies). 

Of a more intimately spiritual character, there was the slim volume "Colloquio interiore" by Sister Mary of the Holy Trinity distributed in more than 50,000 copies in the Italian edition alone; (followed by equally successful translations published in Spain, Germany, England and Portugal); and "Il suo nome è Maria" by Gioia Fati, co-published with Fratelli Fabbri in 1965, with over 30 thousand copies distributed. Convinced of the enormous efficacy of audiovisual media in circulating religious knowledge, Father Calabrese, as well as various radio and TV programmes on the major Christian festivities, did not overlook slides, films and documentaries for the cinema, which were directed by Dr. Rinaldo dal Fabbro and with music by the Maestro A. Vitalini.

A series of 48 colour slides on the Pilgrimage of Paul VI in the Holy Land precedes the splendid “Christ in His Land" written by Father Maurilio Sacchi and with his photos and published by the "Centro" in films and slides (526 scenes) with 10 explanatory booklets. Three short films in black and white were made on the request of the Ministry of Education: "The silence of youth", "From the Jordan to Mount Tabor", “The Encounter of Emmaus", and seven short films in colour: "Christmas in Bethlehem”, "The lake of Jesus", "The olive trees of the agony", "The canticle of the Virgin Mary", "The Mother", "The valley below the sea", "Francis, crusader of love".

The feature films included one in black and white "Crusaders without weapons” and two in colour: "The land of Christ" and "Return to the sources". This one, filmed during the Pilgrimage of the Pope in the Holy Land, was previewed by the Supreme Pontiff who wanted to see it in his private screening room.

Most recently, there was the documentary "A path" on the International Holy Land College un Rome, a valid aid to reflect on the “vocation”. 

All the documentaries were awarded the greatest national prize; others received special prizes and awards and the “Silver Mercury” was awarded to all the film production. Father Calabrese made the finest – and alas only short – documentary with divine Grace, living his life in Franciscan simplicity and joyful apostolic work, and nurturing "hope full of immortality" (Wisdom 3,4).

Father Marco Adinolfi, o.f.m.


Custos of the Holy Land (24.04.1986-08.05.1992) of the Custody of the Holy Land (Start of his rule: 01.06.1986).

Rev. Father Carlo (in the world) Antonio Cecchitelli was born in Morlupo (Rome) on 24th February 1936 to Giuseppe and Antonazzi Cecilia. On 29th September 1947, he entered the "San Bernardino" Franciscan college in Orte (Viterbo) where he started middle school and in 1950 he moved to the "Santa Maria di Gesù" Franciscan college in Artena (Rome) for his secondary school studies. On 21st June 1953, he arrived in Jerusalem, where he donned the Franciscan habit and was to attend the philosophical seminary in Bethlehem for his lycée and philosophical studies. After his second year of philosophy, he was admitted to the Novitiate, still in Bethlehem and at the end, on 4.10.1956, he made his simple vows. 

He stayed in Bethlehem for the third year of the lycée and Philosophy. In 1957, he went to the Theological Seminary of St. Saviour’s Convent in Jerusalem to start his theological studies. On 8th December 1959, he made his Solemn Profession in the church of St. Catherine in Bethlehem. For health reasons (amebiasis) he was sent to the Theology seminary of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Benevento where he received the Diaconate. He completed the last year of Theology at the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome, residing at the Convent of Aracoeli. On 18th March 1961, he was ordained a priest in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (Piazza Navona) under the hands of His Eminence the Most Reverend Cardinal Angelo Felici.

From 1961 to 1965, he was sent to the “Santa Chiara” Higher Institute of Sciences and the Arts at the Santa Chiara Monastery in Naples, where he took a Doctorate in the Humanities. From 1965 to 1969, he taught the humanities at the Seminary of Philosophy in Bethlehem, was Deputy Master of Novices and Master of Postulants, the librarian of the convent and chronicler. From 1968 to 1971, he occupied the delicate position of Custodial Secretary. From 1971 to 1983 he was sent to Rome, to the International Terra Sancta college, where he was the Superior of the House, Rector of the Seminary, Promoter of Vocations, Master of Postulants and parish priest of the neighbouring parish church “St. Mary of Nazareth”. On 29th November 1982, Father Cecchitelli became an ACADEMIC MEMBER of the “Internationale BURCKHARDT Akademie”. From 1983 to 1986 he was recalled to Jerusalem as Secretary of the Custody. From 1986 to 1992 he held the important office of Custos of the Holy Land. Father Cecchitelli speaks English, French, Spanish and Esperanto and, due to the positions he has held, he has visited all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, almost every country in Europe, North America and several South American countries, as well as India.

After his term of office

From 1992 to 1998 he was the Guardian and Commissary of the General Commissariat of the Holy Land in Naples-Via Portacarrese a Montecalvario, 70. In October 1994 he was elected Chairman of the Commissaries of the Holy Land of Italy, Malta, Switzerland and Poland.

On 18th July 1994, Father Carlo Cecchitelli was appointed MIEMBRO DE HONOR of the Circulo de Estudios Donoso Cortes-Badajoz (Spain). In September 1998, he moved to Rome, to the International Terra Sancta College - Via Boccea - Casalotti as Guardian, parish priest of the parish of St. Mary of Nazareth, adjoining the College, Bursar, Chronicler, Bursar, Deputy Master of the Postulants and Vocational Animator for Italy. In September 1999, he was transferred to the Convent of St. John the Baptist in Ain Karim as Master of the Novices, Vicar of the Convent, Member of the Secretariat for Formation and Studies of the Custody and of the Board for Continuing Formation.


Custos of the Holy Land (04.04.1998 - 2004) of the Seraphic province of St. Francis of Umbria (Start of his rule - 01.06.1998).

He made his solemn entrance into St. Saviour on 1st June 1998; his solemn entrance into the Holy Sepulchre on 2nd June 1998; into Bethlehem on 7th June in the same year and into Nazareth on 10th June of the same year.

Brother Giovanni Battistelli
Brother Giovanni Battistelli was born in Spello (province of Perugia) on 28th December 1933; his parents were Salvatore Battistelli and Attilia Cristofani. 

He went to the Seraphic College of the Seraphic province of St. Francis of Assisi of Umbria on 3rd November 1945 and attended middle and high schools in Città di Castello (Perugia) and Perugia from 1949 to 1951.

He entered the Novitiate on 13th August 1951 in the convent of Amelia (Terni) and made his temporary profession on 14th August 1952 in the hands of Brother Vincenzo Bocchini, Provincial Minister. After studies of philosophy at the Convent of St. Damian and theology at the Convent of Porziuncola (Assisi), he made his solemn profession on 8th September 1955 in the hands of Brother Serafino Renzi, Provincial Minister, in the convent of Porziuncola in Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi). Ordained a deacon in 1959 by Mons. Jallad, in the Patriarchal Church of Jerusalem, on 29th June 1960, he was ordained priest by Mons. Alberto Gori, Patriarch of Jerusalem, in the Church of the Patriarchate. He completed his higher education at the Oriental Pontifical Institute in Rome from 1960 to 1963, taking a Degree in Oriental Sciences.
Positions held and activities in his various roles:

31st December 1963: Mousky, Cairo (Egypt) – Member of staff of the Centre for Oriental Christian Studies.

September 1965 - Mousky, Cairo (Egypt) – Member of the staff of the Centre for Oriental Christian Studies.

September 1968 - May 1973: Boulaq, Cairo (Egypt) - Superior, Parish Priest and Headmaster of the TOF. Teacher at the Italian High School of Kasr el Nil.

May 1973 - 1978: St. Catherine, Alexandria (Egypt) – Guardian and Parish Priest, Director of the TOF, Member of the Board of Directors, Teacher of Religion at the Italian school in Alexandria.

* 1978 - 1981: Member of the Italian Board of Charity, Alexandria, Egypt.

1978-1981: St. Saviour, Jerusalem (Israel)- Italian language-member of the Discretorium of the Holy Land, Prefect of Formation, Promoter of vocations. Master of novices, Master of Ceremonies, Professor of the International Jerusalem Centre for theological studies.

1981: Member of the Catholic Patriarchal Commission.

1981-1983: Jerusalem: St. Saviour – Member of the Discretorium of the Holy Land – Master of the novices – Secretary of the Custody for Formation – Promoter of the Custody for Vocations – Master of Ceremonies for the Custody.

1983-1986: Jerusalem: St. Saviour – Member of the Discretorium of the Holy Land - Director of the "Casa Nova" – Secretary of the Custody for Formation – Promoter of the Custody for Vocations – Master of Ceremonies for the Custody.

1986-1989: Rome, College of the Holy Land – Promoter of Vocations for Italy 1989-1995: Rome, College of the Holy Land: Superior – Parish Priest - Director O.F.S. – Promoter of vocations for Italy.

1995-1998: Rome, College of the Holy Land: Superior – Parish Priest – Deputy Master of the Postulandate, Assistant O.F.S. – Promoter of vocations, Chronicler. * He began his Service in the Custody of the Holy Land on 29th June 1960

After his term of office

At the Chapter Congress which was held in the first half of August 2004, he was appointed to the Delegation of the Holy Land in Rome with the following offices: Delegate of the Father Custos for Italy, Guardian, administrator of the Custody of the Holy Land and director of the Pilgrimages Department. He left Jerusalem on16th August.

A view of his term of office

The press release of the Vatican that announced the election of the New Custos, opens with these two sentences: Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa is the new Custos of the Holy Land. He succeeds the Very Rev. Father Giovanni Battistelli who in the past few years has admirably performed his work. His Excellency Giuseppe Betòri, Secretary of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, comments on these words as follows. That "admirably”, so unusual in the language of the Roman Curia, finds me in complete agreement.


Right Reverend Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM
Custos of the Holy Land (05.05.2004 - 20.05.2016)

From the Franciscan Province of Christ the King, Bologna

He made his solemn entry in Saint Saviour on 2 June 2004
in the Holy Sepulchre on 3 June 2004
in Bethlehem on 4 June 2004
in Nazareth on 9 June 2004.

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa was nominated as Custos of the Holy Land for the first time in May 2004, for a period of six years.
In May 2010 he was reconfirmed by the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, for another mandate of three years, and in June 2013 for a further mandate of three years.

Personal data of Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa was born at Cologno al Serio (Bergamo) on 21 April 1965, son of Pietro and Maria Maddalena Tadini.
He attended Secondary School at the Minor Seminary "Le Grazie" of Rimini and obtained his diploma in classical studies at the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Ferrara (June 1984).
He received the Franciscan religious habit on 5 September 1984 in Ferrara (Santo Spirito) and spent the year of novitiate at the Franciscan Shrine of La Verna (Arezzo -Italy).
He made his Temporary Profession in La Verna, on 7 September 1985.
He made his Solemn Profession on 10 October 1989 in the Church of St. Anthony in Bologna.
On 15 September 1990 he was ordained priest in the cathedral church of Bologna, with the imposition of hands of Cardinal Giacomo Biffi.
After spending a period in Rome, he was transferred to the Holy Land, in Jerusalem, in October 1990.
From 2 July 1999 he formally entered in service to the Custody of the Holy Land.
After his philosophical-theological studies, he obtained:
A Licenciate Degree in Biblical Theology at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem.

Offices of responsibility:

In 1995 he was responsible for the publication of the Roman Missal in Hebrew, and translated various liturgical texts in Hebrew for the Catholic Communities in Israel.
He lectured Hebrew at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum.
He covered the role of Vicar General of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem for the pastoral care of Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel.
Since 2008 he is a Consultor in the Commission for relations with Judaism of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Unity among Christians.
Fr. Pizzaballa speaks Italian, Modern Hebrew and English.


  • "La presenza francescana in Terra Santa". Franciscan Printing Press, 2005, ISBN 978-88-6-24000-91
  • "Terra Santa", interview with Giorgio Acquaviva, Editrice La Scuola, Brescia, 2008, ISBN 978-88-35023-142
  • "Le comunità cristiane in Medio Oriente oggi. Dialogo fra le giovani generazioni come unica possibile futura via di distensione", Pierbattista Pizzaballa-Euntes Docete-LXIV-3-201, Editrice Urbaniana University Press 978-88-401-4041-4
  • "Il Custode di Terra Santa - un colloquio con padre Pierbattista Pizzaballa", Piergiorgio Pescali, ADDEditore, Torino, 2014, ISBN 978-88-67830756
  • "Il potere del cuore. Il Medio Oriente nel racconto del Custode di Terra Santa", Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Edizioni Terra Santa, Milano, Year of Publication 2016 ISBN 978-88-6240-379-5

Honorific decorations:

Conventual Chaplain Grand Cross ad honorem of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
21 February 2013
Commander of the Order of the Star of Italy (ex Stella della solidarietà italiana).
12 January 2007
Grand Official of the Order of the Star of Italy (ex Stella della solidarietà italiana).
25 May 2015
Grand Commander of the Orthodox Order of Cross-Bearers of the Holy Sepulchre
30 May 2016

After his mandate

On 24 June 2016 the Holy Father Pope Francis nominated him Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, “sede vacante", and elevated him to the dignity of Archbishop, assigning to him the Titular See of Verbe.

He was consecrated Bishop by His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, His Beatitude Msgr. Fouad Twal and His Excellency Msgr. Francesco Beschi, in the Cathedral of St. Alessandro in Bergamo - Italy, on 10 September 2016.

La chronologie des Custodes de Terre Sainte

La chronologie des Custodes de Terre Sainte commence avec Saint François d’Assise – 1219 – qui inaugura à Chypre, en Syrie, en Palestine et en Egypte la Mission et la province de Terre Sainte.

  • 1. San Francesco d'Assisi 1219
  • 2. Giacomo (Narciso?), 1247 gardien du M. Sion
  • 3. Giacomo da Puy - Custode de TS en Syrie, martyr - 1266
  • 4. Vincentius de Burgundia, Custos in TS
  • 5. Giovannino da Parma (detto C. TS) sec. XIII (1270?)
  • 6. Geleberto, Résident à Acre 1286
  • 7. Guido (résident à Chypre) 1306
  • 8. Rogero Guarini 1310, guard. et sup. M. Sion, et puis encore en 1333
  • 9. Nicolò (da S. Martino) 1328, gardien et supérieur du M. Sion
  • 10. Giovanni Fedanzola da Perugia
  • * Rogero Guarini 1333, gardien et supérieur, déjà 1310
  • 11. Giovanni di Stefano, gardien et supérieur en Sion 1337
  • 12. Giacomo Normanno, Custode à Chypre 1337
  • 13. Nicola di Giovanni, 1345
  • 14. Bernardino da Padova, gardien et supérieur Lieux Saints 1363
  • 15. Antonio di Giacomo, gardien du M. Sion 1372
  • 16. Nicolò da Creta o Candia 1376
  • 17. Giovanni – Custode? 1382
  • 18. Nicolò da Venezia 1384
  • 19. Gerardo Calvetti 1388
  • 20. Nicolò Coronario (Corner de Candia) 1400
  • 21. Nicolò di Pietro 1405
  • 22. Pascutius Davini de Assisio 1414
  • 23. Giacomo di Antonio 1421
  • 24. Giovanni Belloro 1424
  • 25. Luigi da Bologna 1430
  • 26. Giacomo Delfino 1434 (Observance régulière)
  • 27. Gandolfo da Sicilia 1438
  • 28. Baldassare da S. Maria 1446
  • 29. Antonio da Mugnano 1455
  • 30. Gabriele Mezzavacca da Bologna 1462 – Il meurt en 1463
  • 31. Paolo d’Albenga 1464 - Sur la base d’un firman, il résulte Custode en date du 17.4.1472
  • 32. Francesco da Piacenza 1467
  • 33. Andrea da Parma 1472
  • 34. Giacomo d’Alessandria 1475 - décédé 1477
  • 35. Giovanni de Thomacellis 1478
  • 36. Paolo da Canneto 1481 - Il renonce à la charge
  • 37. Bernardino da Parma 1484
  • * Francesco da Perugia 1487 - décédé
  • 38. Bernardino Caimo1487, déjà président 1478
  • 39. Bartolomeo da Piacenza 1489, il redevient Custode en 1496
  • 40. Francesco Suriano1493, il redevient Custode en 1512
  • 41. Angelo da Foligno 1495
  • * Bartolomeo da Piacenza 1496, déjà Custode en 1489
  • 42. Antonio Gozze de Regnis 1499
  • 43. Mauro da S. Bernardino 1501
  • 44. Luigi da Napoli 1504
  • 45. Bernardino del Vecchio 1507 - Il renonce à la charge
  • * Francesco Suriano 1512, déjà Custode en 1493
  • 46. Nicolò da Tossignano 1514
  • 47. Zenobio da Firenze 1517
  • 48. Gabriele ? 1518
  • 49. Angelo da Ferrara 1519
  • 50. Giovanni 1528
  • 51. Mario da Messina 1532 - décédé
  • 52. Battista da Macerata 1532
  • 53. Tomaso da Norcia 1535 - décédé en prison à Damas en 1539
  • 54. Dionisio da Sarcognano 1541
  • 55. Felice da Venezia1543, voir 1545
  • 56. Giorgio Bosnese 1544
  • * Felice da Venezia 1545, président et Custode, voir 1543
  • 57. Bonaventura Corsetto Dalmata 1547
  • 58. Bonifacio Stefani da Ragusa 1551, voir 1564
  • 59. Antonio da Bergamo 1559
  • 60. Aurelio da Griano 1560
  • * Bonifacio Stefani da Ragusa 1564, déjà Custode en 1551
  • 61. Bernardino da Collestate 1565, président en 1568
  • 62. Girolamo da Fossato 1566
  • 63. Angelo da Portomaurizio 1568
  • 64. Gian-Francesco d’Arsignano Vicent. 1568 - prisonnier des Turcs 1570, en 1571 il renonce
  • 65. Antonio da S. Angelo 1571 - il mort
  • 66. Geremia da Brescia 1572
  • 67. Giovanni da Bergamo 1580 - Il renonce quelques mois après
  • 68. Angelo Stella Veneto 1581 - Il meurt en Août 1583
  • 69. Paolino Olivoli da Pisa 1584 - Il meurt après 4 jours de gouvernement
  • 70. Accursio da Quinzano 1585
  • 71. Gian-Battista da Montegiano, 1588
  • 72. Francesco da Spello 1590 - Mort à Mantova en 1593
  • 73. Felice Ranieri da Fratta 1593 - Il meurt 15 jours après et se trouve enterré au cimetière des Arméniens
  • 74. Gian-Francesco da Salandra 1593
  • 75. Evangelista da Gabiano 1597
  • 76. Francesco Manerba 1600
  • 77. Cesario da Trino 1603
  • 78. Gaudenzio Saibanti da Verona 1608
  • 79. Angelo da Messina 1612
  • 80. Basilio Basili da Caprarola 1616
  • 81. Francesco Dulcedo 1619
  • 82. Tomaso Obicini da Novara 1620 – il renonce
  • 83. Ambrogio da Pola, 1622 président et Custode 1621 jusqu'en 1625 - vedi 1651
  • 84. Francesco Spinelli 1622 - décédé
  • 85. Sante da Messina 1625
  • 86. Diego da S. Severino 1628
  • 87. Paolo da Lodi 1632 - jusqu'en 1635
  • 88. Francesco da Cattaro Dalmata 1634 - décédé
  • 89. Andrea d’Arco 1637
  • 90. Pietro Verniero da Montepiloso 1642
  • 91. Francesco Merisi da Como 1645
  • 92. Antonio da Gaeta 1648
  • * Ambrogio da Pola 1651
  • 93. Mariano Morone da Maleo 1652
  • 94. Eusebio Valles 1659 – Il meurt en 1662 à 57 ans
  • 95. Francesco M. Rhini da Polizio 1664
  • 96. Teofilo Testa da Nola, président et Custode 1669
  • 97. Claudio Gavazzi da Lodi 1673 - il meurt 1674
  • 98. Tomaso da Caltagirone 1675 - “s’étant rendu à Constantinople, il ne revint plus à sa charge”
  • 99. Giovanni Bonsignori da Legnano 1675
  • 100. Pier-Marino Sormanni 1678
  • 101. Pier-Antonio Grassi da Cantù 1683 - il meurt 1685
  • 102. Angelico da Milano 1686
  • 103. Gregorio da Parghelia 1689
  • 104. Gian-Battista D’Atina 1691 - Il gouverna jusqu’en 1694
  • 105. Baldassare Caldera Milanese 1695
  • 106. Francesco da Santo Floro 1697 - Il gouverna jusqu’en 1699
  • 107. Bonaventura da Majori 1701-1705 - Il meurt en 1709
  • 108. Benedetto da Bari 1704 - Il tomba malade et renonça
  • 109. Costantino Ultorchi da Milano 1705 - Il meurt 1705
  • 110. Gaetano Potestà da Palermo 1706 - Il repartit pour l’Italie en 1708
  • 111. Lorenzo Cozza da S. Lorenzo 1710 - jusqu’en 1715 - Elu Cardinal il meurt en 1729
  • 112. Giuseppe Maria da Perugia 1716 - pendant 3 ans
  • 113. Gian-Filippo da Milano 1720 - décédé 1722
  • 114. Giacomo da Lucca 1722 président, de 1723 Custode à 1728
  • 115. Andrea da Montoro 1730-1734
  • 116. Angelico da Gazolo 1735, confirmé en 1738
  • 117. Paolo da Laurino 1740-1743
  • * Giacomo da Lucca 1743, déjà président et Custode 1722 - Il renonce
  • 118. Desiderio da Casabasciana 1744-1750 - Vice-custode avec prérogatives et privilèges de Custode
  • 119. Prospero Zinelli da Brescia 1751-1754
  • 120. Pio da Mentone 1754
  • 121. Domenico da Venezia 1756-1761
  • 122. Paolo da Piacenza 1762-1767
  • 123. Luigi da Bastia 1767, président et Custode - Il meurt en 1771
  • 124. Valeriano Bellandi da Prato 1773 - Il gouverna pendant six mois et mourut en 1788
  • 125. Gian-Domenico da Levigliano 1773, Nommé « usque ad mortem » en 1787 (14 anni)
  • 126. Placido da Roma 1795-1798
  • 127. Ladislao da Viterbo 1798 – Il meurt
  • 128. Zenobio Puccini da Firenze 1801-1804
  • 129. Bonaventura da Nola 1805
  • 130. Giuseppe M. Pierallini da Pistoia 1808 - il meurt en 1811
  • 131. Girolamo da Osimo 1815, il meurt en 1815 il gouverna pendant 9 jours
  • 132. Salvatore Antonio da Malta 1817 - il renonce à la charge 1819 et il demeure jusqu’en 1820
  • 133. Ugolino Cesarini da S. Marino 1820 - il meurt en 1820
  • 134. Gian-Antonio da Rogliano Corso 1822 - il meurt en 1824
  • 135. Tomaso da Montasola 1825 - confirmé en 1827, il revint en Italie en 1830
  • 136. Francesco d. Grotte di S. Lorenzo 1831 - réélu 1834, il renonce et il revint en Italie
  • 137. Francesco Saverio da Malta 1835
  • 138. Perpetuo Guasco da Solero 1838 - évêque en 1839, il demeure jusqu’en 1840
  • 139. Cherubino Maria da Cori 1841 - il meurt en 1843
  • 140. Cherubino da Civezza 1843, prés. et Custode - il renonce 24.5.1847
  • 141. Bernardino Trionfetti 1847 – en 1856 il est élu à l’unanimité Ministre général
  • 142. Bonaventura da Solero 1857-1863
  • 143. Serafino Milani da Carrara 1863-1873
  • 144. Gaudenzio Bonfigli da Matelica 1874-1880
  • 145. Guido Corbelli da Cortona 1880-1886
  • 146. Aurelio Briante da Buia 1886, voir 1894 - il gouverne pendant huit mois puis renonça
  • 147. Giacomo Ghezzi da Castelmadama 1888-1894
  • * Aurelio Briante da Buia 1894-1900 ?*, déjà Custode en 1886
  • 148. Frediano Giannini 1900-1906

  • 149. Roberto Razzoli, 1906-1913
  • 150. Onorato Carcaterra 1913
  • 151. Serafino Cimino 1914-1918
  • 152. Ferdinando Diotallevi 1918-1925
  • 153. Aurelio Marotta 1925, Il fut nommé quatre fois au poste de président 1920-1924
  • 154. Nazzareno Jacopozzi 1931-1937