Born in the village of Mhardey near Hama in Syria in 1921, Habib Hazim was the son of an Arab Greek Orthodox family and was attracted to ecclesial ministry early in life. After finishing school in Hama, Hazim moved to Beirut where he studied literature and started serving the Orthodox Church in Lebanon.
Hazim helped found the global Society of Orthodox Youth Organizations and he became a bishop in 1961 and in 1970 he was elected Orthodox Metropolitan of the Syrian city of Latakia, a coastal city. Hazim was elected Greek Orthodox
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East in 1979, succeeding Patriarch Elias IV. The Patriarch of Antioch is the third most important See after the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Alexandria.