Fr. Aziz Halawa, a Latin Patriarchate priest and director of the Liturgical Office at the patriarchate, has obtained a doctorate degree in Divine Liturgy from the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome following the discussion of his thesis titled, “Anaphora of St. James: The Jerusalemite Church and Its Liturgy in the First Five Centuries" (a liturgical theological historical study)" which was supervised by Fr. Professor José Luis Guterres Martin.
The discussion of the thesis was held over the Internet in the presence of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Most Rev. Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Custos of the Holy Land Fr. Francesco Patton, Professor of Liturgy at Lebanon's Holy Spirit University of Kaslik Fr. Khalil Hayek, a number of priests and nuns, as well as friends.
It is to be noted that the Anaphora is the most solemn part of the Divine Liturgy, or the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, during which the offerings of bread and wine are consecrated as the body and blood of Christ.
On the reasons for choosing this topic, Fr. Dr. Halawa said, “I have conducted numerous and varied studies on the Jerusalemite Church by several researchers in various fields including Biblical history, archaeology, and the history of pilgrimage. But there is little research on the liturgical history of the Church of the Holy Land. Furthermore, several studies have also been conducted on the liturgical history of the Holy City, by contemporary researchers. However, these studies focused attention on a later period. Therefore, it is important to deepen the research on the early period, namely the first five centuries."
Another motive given by Father Dr. Aziz Halawa to delve into this research is that “the Jerusalem liturgy is still unknown to many, despite the abundance of relevant sources in the various ancient languages that have been translated since ancient times, especially the Armenian and Georgian languages, as well as Syriac and Coptic, and the Arabic. There are also several manuscripts that were discovered in the year 1975 in the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai and elsewhere, but unfortunately they are still waiting for someone to translate and publish them.
Referring to the essence of the thesis, namely, the Anaphora of St. James, Fr. Halawa said, “There have been several editions related to this anaphora, whose original texts are available, whether in Syriac or Greek. However, almost all of these were devoid of theological analysis, which prompted me to conduct this study, along with in-depth theological-biblical analysis, which is considered essential in the liturgical history of the Eastern and Western Churches.
Fr. Dr. Aziz Halawa hoped that the Jerusalem Church should nowadays "be viewed as the heir of the Church of the Apostles, so that it can serve as a 'liturgical bridge' between East and West, between the richness of the past as well as its pain, as well as the difficult present and future. This is the mission of all the churches in the East, but especially the Latin Church in the Holy Land today, which is a church with a Western rites and traditions, but which exists in an eastern environment, present inside or near the holy places, and in the heart of the Holy City."