His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV
His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and All the East was born in 1920 in the village of Muharda, near the city of Hama, Syria. In 1936, he moved to Beirut, where he became an altar server. Years later, upon taking monastic vows, he was ordained a deacon.
In 1945, he graduated from the American University of Beirut, and from 1949 to 1953 studied at the St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris. Upon his return to Lebanon, the young theologian with a master's degree was ordained a priest. In 1942, he became one of the founders of the influential Orthodox Youth Movement in Lebanon and Syria, which has done much to renew participation of the youth in the life of the Church. In 1953, His Beatitude became one of the organizers of Syndesmos, the worldwide Brotherhood of Orthodox Youth.
In 1961, he was ordained Bishop of Palmyra and Patriarchal Vicar. The following year, he was sent to the Monastery of Balamand as superior and as dean of the St. John of Damascus Theological Seminary, which in 1988 was transformed into an Orthodox university, serving people of all faiths and sects from Lebanon, Syria and beyond--the first and only such university in the Middle East to this day.
In 1970, the future Patriarch was appointed Metropolitan of Latakia (Laodicea). On July 2, 1979, he was elected by the Holy Synod as the 166th Patriarch of the Church of Antioch, and enthroned on July 8 of the same year. During his tenure as Patriarch, he made two official tours of the North American Archdiocese, one in 1985 and another in 1999. He also made other unofficial visits, most recently this past October when he visited the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY.
His Beatitude published a series of theological books, and numerous articles. Additionally, he received honorary doctorate degrees from Sorbonne and the Saint Petersburg Theological Academies (1981), St. Vladimir's Seminary (1985), and Minsk Theological Academy (2003).