Beirut, Lebanon, May 14, 2019 / 03:25 am
Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, who served as the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch from 1986 to 2011, died Sunday just days short of his 99th birthday.
The cardinal died May 12 at a hospital in Beirut.
"I address my warm condolences to you, as well as to his family and to all the faithful of the Patriarchal Church of Antioch of the Maronites, whom he governed for many years with as much gentleness as determination," Pope Francis wrote in a May 14 telegram to Sfeir's successor, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai.
Sfeir was born May 15, 1920 in Rayfoun, Lebanon, about 10 miles east of Sarba. He attended Saint-Maron Seminary from 1937-39, and St. Joseph's University in Beirut from 1940-50. He was ordained a priest in 1950, serving in his home parish and as secretary of the Diocese of Damas, and then as secretary to the patriarchate. He also taught literature and Arabic philosophy and translation at the College of the Marist Fathers in Jounieh.