Lost the contact with a friar of the Custody of the Holy Land in Syria

Giacomo Pizzi7 July 2015

It was spread yesterday by the Custody of the Holy Land a communique stating that a friar is disappeared in Syria: 

During the late afternoon of Saturday 4 July, we lost the contact with Father Dhiya Aziz, an Iraqi Franciscan of the Custody of the Holy Land, parish priest at Yacoubieh (Province of Idlib, district of Jisr al Chougour, Syria).

Some militants of an unknown armed brigade, perhaps connected with Jahbat al-Nusra, came to take him away for a brief interview with the Emir of the place. From that moment we do not have any more news and we are unable to trace his where abouts at the present moment.

We are doing everything possible to locate the place of his detention and secure his release.

We entrust him to the prayers of all.

The Custody of the Holy Land.


The friars present in the St. Paul Region, which includes Syria, Jordan and Libya, number 27, of whom 14 are in the areas of serious conflict over the past four years.

Attacks on the parishes, churches and reception centers continue on a regular basis, particularly in the North, in Aleppo and in the villages of the Orontes Valley near the Turkish border  The international press reported last July on a missile that fell on the Franciscan monastery in Yacoubieh, fortunately without any victims. During the night of 5 October a number of rebels linked to Jahbat Al-Nusra entered the Monastery of St. Joseph in Knayeh and kidnapped the Parish priest Father Hanna Jallouf and several civilians.

Many other attacks have gone unreported, however, such as the one witnessed by the Parish priest of Aleppo, Father Ibrahim Alsabagh, this past 27 February at the church of Azizieh during the evening Mass: a gas bomb caused two deaths among the faithful and there were several wounded just outside the religious site.

The presence of the Custody of the Holy Land in Syria and neighboring countries has been continuous and active, thanks to the support of Association pro Terra Sancta, but the requirement for assistance has continued to increase.

Fr. Dhiya Aziz ofm was born at Mosul, the ancient Niniveh, in Iraq, on 10 January 1974. After some studies at the Medical Institute of his city, he embraced religious life and after the novitiate at Ain Karem he made his first profession of the religious vows on 1 April 2002. In 2003 he transferred to Egypt, where he remained for many years. In 2010 he came back into the Custody and was sent to Amman. Subsequently he was transferred to Syria, at Lattakia. He then rendered himself voluntarily willing to assist the community of Yacoubieh, in the region of the Orontes (province of Idlib, district of Jisr al-Chougour), which has become particularly dangerous since it fell under the control of Jahbat al-Nusra.