BEIRUT — The patriarch of a Damascus-based Eastern Orthodox Church, Ignatius Hazim, has died in Beirut at 92.
Patriarch Hazim was named Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch and All The East in 1979. His church is also known as the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.
He died of a stroke in St. George’s hospital Wednesday.
Patriarch Hazim grew up in the Syrian town of Maharda. His remains will be sent from Lebanon to Syria for burial.
There are a number of mostly autonomous Eastern Orthodox churches in the Middle East, and the region has more than a half dozen patriarchs, including the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of world’s Orthodox Christians.
Patriarch Hazim moved in 1936 from Syria to Beirut, where he later became a priest. He graduated from Beirut University in 1954.
He studied in France, and after his return to Lebanon cofounded the Orthodox Youth Movement in Syria and Lebanon in 1942.
A year after he was named bishop for Palmyra and deputy patriarch of Antioch in 1961, he was sent to the Balamand Monastery, where he became president and dean of the theology faculty. In 1982, the institution was transformed to an Orthodox Church-funded university, a first in the Middle East, the University of Balamand.
Patriarch Hazim published a number of books on theology and earned honorary doctorates from the Sorbonne in Paris and theology academies in St. Petersburg and Minsk, Belarus.
He was appointed bishop for Lattakia in 1979 and was elected patriarch nine years later.