The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius IV, has died at the age of 92, church officials said on Wednesday, dpa reported.
Ignatius, who had reigned as head of Syria's largest Christian church since 1979, suffered a blood clot on the brain and died in a Beirut hospital on Tuesday night.
Church authorities have begun making funeral arrangements.
Ignatius was born in Muharde in Syria's Hama province in 1920 and spent his entire adult life in the church, becoming bishop of Lattakia in 1970. He was the author of several theological works.
The Patriarchate of Antioch, one of Christianity's oldest churches, is responsible for up to a million Greek Orthodox Christians in Syria as well as several hundred thousand in neighbouring Lebanon.
Despite its name, its seat is now in the Syrian capital Damascus.
Christians make up some 10 per cent of Syria's 22.5 million population, and are divided between 10 different Orthodox and Catholic churches as well as smaller Protestant groups.