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The Spiritual Protector of the international ecumenical Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, Patriarch Gregory was born Lutfy Laham in Darayya, Syria in 1933. He entered the Seminary of the Holy Savior of the Basilian Salvatorian Order near Saida, Lebanon in 1943. He took his simple religious vows in 1949 and his solemn religious vows in 1954. He received his religious and philosophical education at the Holy Savior Seminary, Joun, Lebanon. He continued his theological studies in Rome where he was ordained priest on February 15, 1959 in the Church of the Abbey of Grottaferrata. The future patriarch received a doctoral degree in Oriental Theology from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome following his ordination. He was appointed administrator of the Patriarchal Vicariate of Jerusalem in 1974.

In 1967 he founded at the Patriarchate the Oriental Library to promulgate the knowledge of Eastern traditions. He initiated a variety of social projects such as repairing churches, opening clinics and building public housing, including a guest house for pilgrims at the Patriarchal Center in Jerusalem.


On August 30, 1981 he was named archbishop by Patriarch Maximos V Hakim and continued his work as Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem as successor to Archbishop Hilarion Capucci. On November 27, 1981 he was enthroned as the titular archbishop of Tarsus and consecrated bishop by patriarch Maximos V Hakim.


Patriarch Maximos resigned in 2000 at age 92 due to failing health. The episcopal synod of the Melkite Church met at the patriarchal residence in Raboueh on November 22, 2000 to elect a new patriarch. On November 29 the synod elected Archbishop Laham Patriarch. He chose the name Gregory after the Patriarch Gregory II Youssef, the last member of the Basilian Salvatorian Order to serve as head of the Melkite Church.


Following an old tradition of the more than 900-years old Order of Knighthood, founded in Jerusalem to take care of lepers in the Hospital of St. Lazarus, Patriarch Gregory III Laham is  Lazarus of Jerusalem, as were his predecessors Maximos IV and Maximos V.

His Beatitude Gregory III Latham, Spiritual Protector of the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem

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