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Catholic Church names new custodian of holy land sites

Father Francesco Patton held a number of senior church administrative positions and been professor of social communications at a theological school

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The Roman Catholic church on Friday announced the appointment of Italian Franciscan Father Francesco Patton as the new guardian of the Catholic church’s sites in the Holy Land.

Patton, 52, replaces Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa who served for 12 years in the post known as Custos of the Holy Land, in accordance with a tradition that dates back to 1219, during the Crusades.

“Father Francesco Patton was born in Vigo Meano in the province and diocese of Trent on December 23rd, 1963,” a statement on the Custody’s website said

“He is fluent in English and Spanish, besides his native Italian.”

“In 1993 he earned a Licentiate in Communication Sciences at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.”

It said that among previous posts Patton had held a number of senior church administrative positions and been professor of social communications at a theological school.

The Custos is responsible for administering holy sites, Catholic schools and training seminarians.

He heads The Custody, a body made up of 285 members of the Franciscan order from 39 countries.

Its territory covers Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Cyprus, the Greek island of Rhodes and the monastery of Mouski, in Cairo, the statement said.

Pizzaballa was the longest-serving Custos in modern times.