Catholic Church in Israel

The Catholic Church in Israel is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, in full communion with the Holy See in Rome.


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 in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as does the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, the Territorial Prelature of the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem, and the Personal prelature of Opus Dei, with jurisdictional presence. The Holy See is represented by the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem for Palestine.[citation needed]

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., converts to Catholicism of Jewish descent, or Hebrew-speaking Catholics born to immigrant workers, often from the Philippines.[5]

Local jurisdictionsEdit


Particular jurisdictionsEdit

  • 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 communitiesEdit

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 SeeEdit

The Holy See is currently represented by an Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and an Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine. Since 1994, the same person serves in both offices, and also serves as Nuncio to Cyprus. Since 3 June 2021, Adolfo Tito Yllana has served in both offices.[11]

In June 1762, a diplomatic relationship was established in Ottoman Syria, which also included the region of Palestine.[12]

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

On 11 February 1948, with the Papal brief Supreme Pastoris, Pope Pius XII erected the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem and Palestine, Transjordan and Cyprus.[13]

On 30 December 1993, the Holy See and the State of Israel signed the Fundamental Agreement Between the Holy See and the State of Israel, the first agreement between the two States, and they formally established diplomatic relations in March 1994. The Holy See established the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel.[14]

Supra-diocesan structuresEdit

Episcopal conferencesEdit

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

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

Ecumenical participationEdit

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[15] 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 institutesEdit

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 in 1217.

They are represented by the Committee of the Religious Men of the Holy Land[16] and the Union of Religious Superiors of Women in the Holy Land.[17]

Male religiousEdit

There are 540 male religious,[clarification needed] representing the following congregations:

Female religiousEdit

There are 1,079 female religious, from the following congregations:

Other Institutes of Consecrated LifeEdit

There are 145 members of other institutes of consecrated life:

Lay organizations and institutesEdit

Catholic scouting and youth ministryEdit

Haifa Maronite Boy Scouts, 1939. Center: Dr John Macqueen Chief Medical Officer for Haifa
  • 2,500 members in 16 troops of the Catholic Scout Association in Israel
  • 2,500 members in 12 troops of the Palestinian Catholic Scouts of Saint John the Baptist
  • Young Catholic Students (Jeunesse Étudiante Catholique)

Lay ecclesial movementsEdit

Medical and social servicesEdit

There are:

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

Military and hospitaller ordersEdit

Universities and educational institutesEdit

There are, additionally, 71 primary and secondary schools


Pilgrimage servicesEdit

  • Christian Information Centre, founded 1973.[18]
  • Episcopal Commission for Christian Pilgrimages[19]
  • Franciscan Pilgrim's Office, founded 2009.[20]
  • Latin Patriarchate Pilgrimages[21]

Shrines and holy sitesEdit

  • 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 Church, 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 JerusalemEdit

Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
  • Armenian Guest House
  • Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family
  • 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

Pilgrim's decorationsEdit

Popes, saints, martyrsEdit

Saints and MartyrsEdit

Unnamed martyrsEdit

  • 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 Popes who were born in, or first ministered in, the Holy Land:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Statistical Abstract of Israel 2010". Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
  2. ^ "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency.
  3. ^ Bailey, Betty Jane; Bailey, J. Martin (2003). Who are the Christians in the Middle East?. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. pp. 150–158. ISBN 0802810209.
  4. ^ Collings, Rania Al Qass; Kassis, Rifat Odeh; Raheb, Mitri (2008). Palestinian Christians: Facts, Figures and Trends. Bethlehem: Diyar Consortium. pp. 6–12.
  5. ^ "Hebrew-Speaking Christians". Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Christians.
  6. ^ "Maronite Exarchate of Jerusalem". MaroniteJerusalem. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08.
  7. ^ "Armenian Exarchate of Jerusalem". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
  8. ^ "Syriac Exarchate of Jerusalem". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
  9. ^ "Chaldean Exarchate". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
  10. ^ "Opus Dei". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
  11. ^ "Rinunce e nomine, 03.06.2021" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 3 June 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Nunciature to Syria".
  13. ^ "Apostolic Delegate". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
  14. ^ "Fundamental Accord". The Holy See.
  15. ^ "Heads of Churches in Jerusalem". Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum.
  16. ^ "Religious Men". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
  17. ^ "Religious Women". Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
  18. ^ "Home Page". Christian Information Center. Archived from the original on 2015-11-08.
  19. ^ "Episcopal Commission for Christian Pilgrimages". Catholic Church of the Holy Land.
  20. ^ "Pilgrims' Office". Basilica of the Annunciation. Archived from the original on 2015-08-11. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
  21. ^ "Pilgrimages". Latin Patriarchate. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  22. ^ "Pilgrim's Shell". Northwest Lieutenancy, EOHSJ.
  23. ^ "Piolgrim's Cross". Custody of the Holy Land. Archived from the original on 2015-11-17.

External linksEdit