Latin Patriarchate Seminary of Jerusalem
Opened in Jerusalem in December 1852 by Patriarch Valerga, the seminary was transferred to Beit Jala on September 7, 1857. Because of circumstances, it returned several times to Jerusalem, though its principal base of operations has been Beit Jala where it was permanently established on July 7, 1936.
Directed at first by priests of the Patriarchate, it was entrusted to the Benedictines of Dormition Abbey in October 1921 and to the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Betharram in October 1932. Since July 1980, it is once again under the direction of the priests of the Patriarchate. The Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo serviced the seminary from 1921 to 1929 and the Sisters of Saint Dorothy of Vicenza from 1929 to 2008, replaced by the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (Mercedarians) in 2008 – 2013, and now by the Servants of the Lord and of Our Lady of Matara.
The curriculum comprises an introductory year of spirituality, a year to master the French language, and two years of philosophy, followed by four years of theology, plus a year of pastoral experience in the parishes before the diaconate. The curriculum in theology was affiliated with the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome on May 3, 1967. This affiliation enables the students to receive, at the end of the program, the degree of Bachelor of Theology.
The academic and formation programs are based on the Ratio Fundamentalis, the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, the Ordo of the Pontifical Lateran University, and the Ratio Studiorum of the seminary which was updated in 1990 and published in the General Academic Calendar. Courses are taught in Arabic, French, and occasionally English.
Founded mainly to train local clergy, the seminary has traditionally been and remains open to students from other institutions and countries who wish to prepare themselves, on site, for the service of the Church in the Holy Land. Since its opening in 1852 until the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, 272 former seminarians have been ordained priests, 14 of them have become bishops, three of them patriarchs.