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29 July, 2011

Bethlehem University Community Mourns Former Chancellor of Bethlehem University, H.E. Archbishop Pietro Sambi

Pietro SambiHis Excellency Archbishop Pietro Sambi, former Chancellor of Bethlehem University (1998-2006) and Apostolic Nuncio to the United States for more than five years (2005-2011), passed away on Wednesday evening, 27th July, 2011 from complications of lung surgery performed three weeks earlier, at John’s Hopkins hospital in Baltimore. One week ago, the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., announced that Archbishop Sambi had been “placed on assisted ventilation to attempt recovery of his lung function after undergoing a delicate lung surgery two weeks ago.” Archbishop Sambi was 73 years old.

Vice Chancellor Br. Peter Bray, FSC, is saddened by this loss: “I was distraught when I learned of Archbishop Sambi’s illness and grieved to know that we have lost this  outstanding figure of strength and devotion to God. He was a great lover and supporter of Bethlehem University and his efforts on behalf of Bethlehem University and the Palestinian people will not be forgotten. I offer my sincerest condolences to the family, friends, and associates of Archbishop Sambi.”

In a statement, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Archbishop Sambi had possessed both “…a keen sense of diplomacy cultivated through many years of service in the Vatican diplomatic corps, especially in Israel, and a pastoral sensitivity cultivated through his many years as a faithful and devoted priest.”

Father Tom Rosica, Bethlehem University Foundation Board Member, writes,

“Archbishop Sambi was a great supporter of Catholic Higher Education. He had a particular love for Bethlehem University in the Holy Land. He referred to Bethlehem University as ‘the real star of Bethlehem.’ When he learned that I was part of the Bethlehem University Foundation Board, he expressed great delight. Salt & Light Television is producing a major documentary on this university in the Palestinian Territories. Last September, we presented a preview of the documentary at a dinner in Washington, D.C. I sat with Archbishop Sambi as the assembly of Bethlehem University supporters and Christian Brothers viewed the film. People were deeply moved by the presentation. Sambi leaned over and expressed his delight as well as asking me for several copies of the video for his friends.”

On this sad occasion, the Apostolic Delegation and the Assembly of the Ordinaries of the Holy Land wish to announce that a Requiem Mass for the eternal rest of Archbishop Sambi’s soul will be celebrated in the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate, on the Transfiguration Feast, Saturday August 6th at 6:00 p.m.

Condolences will be received by the Apostolic Nuncio and Delegate following the ceremony. Bethlehem University is currently planning a memorial mass for the soul of Archbishop Sambi.


Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine