Rome (Fides Service)- Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa has been appointed Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land in the place of Fr. Giovanni Battistelli who had this charge for the past six years.
The Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land is appointed by the General Definitor of the Friars Minor with the approval of the Holy See according to the Papal Statutes which regulate this body of the Order of Friars Minor.
Born in Cologno al Serio Bergamo, Italy, 21 April 1965, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa is one of the youngest Friars to be appointed to this post. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa came to know the Frairs Minor in the Chrsit the King province in Emilia Romagna. After school he entered the Novitiate in 1984 in Verna, Arezzo. He made his solemn profession on 14 October 1989. He was ordained a priest on 15 September 1990.
He studied theology in Rome at the "Pontifical Antonianum College obtaining a Degree in 1990 and in Jerusalem, obtaining a Licentiate in 1993 at the “Studium Biblicum Franciscanum”. He studied modern Hebrew (1993-1994) and a course in Semitic languages the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1995-1999). At present he is studying for a Doctorate in Sacred Scripture in “Studium Biblicum Franciscanum” in Jerusalem.
Since 1998 he has been assistant professor of Biblical Hebrew and Judaism at the “Studium Biblicum Franciscanum” and “Studium Theologicum Hierosolymitanum”. In 1995, with Fr. Massimo Pazzini ofm, he published the Rite for Mass in Hebrew (Seder seudat ha adon. Ordo Missae hebraice) and he has translated various liturgical texts into Hebrew for the community of Hebrew speaking Catholics.
Fr. Pizzaballa has been parish assistant for the community of Hebrew speaking Catholics in Jerusalem and general assistant of the Auxiliary of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Bishop Jean-Baptiste Gourion, for pastoral care of Jewish speaking Catholics in Israel. Since 2001 he has been Superior of the monastery of Saints Simeon and Anna in Jerusalem. In the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land he is President della Commission for missionary evangelisation and a member of the commission for Judaism and Islam. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 15/5/2004, righe 32 parole 360)