Father Michele Piccirillo, a Franciscan of the Custody of the Holy Land and expert in the archaeology of Jordan, especially mosaics, died on October 26, 2008, at age 63 after a brief battle with cancer.
Piccirillo taught at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF) in Jerusalem and was director of the SBF museum and archaeological mission.
Piccirillo was ordained a priest in the Custody of the Holy Land in 1969 and earned degrees at the Athenaeum Antonianum and the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He completed his doctorate in archaeology at Rome’s La Sapienza University.
Piccirillo directed several excavation and restoration projects, including those at the Memorial of Moses on Mt. Nebo, and the sites of Madaba, Umm er-Rasas and Bethany beyond the Jordan, all in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan.
In 1992 Piccirillo was instrumental in creating the Madaba Mosaic School, which trains workers in the preservation and restoration of ancient mosaics.
Father Piccirillo was buried on his beloved Mt. Nebo, where Moses was permitted to see the Holy Land before he died.