History

The Latin Patriarchal Diocese of Jerusalem, in its present form, was established in 1099 with the Crusaders. According to the Crusaders thesis, there was no residing Patriarch by the time of their entrance to Jerusalem; therefore they installed a Latin Patriarch to govern the Church. When Saladine took over Jerusalem in 1187, the Latin Patriarch had to reside temporarily in Acco until 1291.

After that period the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem remained a titular residing in Europe. Because of these conditions, Pope Clemens VI, in 1342, made the Franciscan Friars, led by a Custos (literally meaning the Guardian), the official custodians of the Holy Places in the Holy Land.

In 1847, Pope Pius IX reestablished the residential Latin Patriarch See in Jerusalem. The first Patriarch to come back was Joseph Valerga, 37 years old, with broad experience of the East, and knowledge of local oriental languages. He had served first in the Apostolic Delegation of Beirut and had made a lenghy visit in Iraq with the Chaldean Church. As Patriarch he was also appointedApostolic Delegate for the Middle East with residence in Beirut, where he used to spend six months of the year.

With the reestablishment of the diocese, the Equestrian Order of the knights of the Holy Sepulcher was also reestablished by the same Pope Pius IX who entrusted its reorganization to the first Patriarch Valerga.  So the two historical institutions were reestablished put together and for the same aim by Pope Pius IX: to serve Christians in the Land of Jesus, the Patriarchate had to work in the land itself, and the Order, throughout the world, had to support this new diocese in the Holy Land.

The reestablishment of a residential Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem marked the return and the coming of many other religious Orders and Congregations to the Holy Land at the service of the renewed Roman Catholic Latin Diocese. The main religious Order still remains the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. But thirty one other men and seventy two women religious Congregations are also present now in the Latin Patriarchal Diocese for various ministries, Holy Places, welcoming of pilgrims, biblical studies, pastoral and social work.