First Orthodox monastery in Central Europe to open

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will lay the foundation stone for the first Orthodox monastery in Austria - which will be the first in Central Europe, on September 26.

It was originally supposed to occur on June 27, however it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The official foundation will be laid by the Ecumenical Patriarch together with Metropolitan Arsenios of Austria and Exarch of Hungary and Central Europe, the Catholic Bishop of Burgenland, Egidio Zivkovic and others.

The first Orthodox monastery of the region will be built in the eastern Austrian federal state of Burgenland on the border with Hungary.

The establishment and forthcoming construction of the "first organised Orthodox monastery in Central Europe," was announced in October 2014. Metropolitan Arsenios also expressed his belief that it would be a "bridge" that would unite Austria with Greece.

As he himself stated in Vienna at the time, the establishment and operation of an Orthodox monastery in the jurisdiction of the Diocese and Exarchate was a wish from the beginning of his priesthood in December 2011.

The donation contract was symbolically received on November 11, 2014, personally at an official ceremony in the Diocese of Eisenstadt, the capital of Burgeland, by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew himself.

Bishop Zifkovic of Burgenland had emphasised that his parish expressed special joy at the construction of the first Orthodox monastery, in view of the fact that the patron saint of the city was the apostle Andrew, the founder of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

For the construction of the monastery, Pope Francis had sent a check for 100,000 euros, which was solemnly delivered at the end of February 2018 in Vienna by Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians.

The monastery in St. Andre is expected to consist of four rectangular wings, creating a square in the centre of which will be a church, the highest point of which will be about 13 meters, and will be erected in the first phase of work.

The construction of the other buildings will follow - the dorms for the monks, reception halls, library, dining room, adjoining rooms and workshops, while a hostel is also planned.

In Austria, where the number of Orthodox Christians is about 500,000, making up the second largest religious community (after the Roman Catholic Church), there are seven jurisdictions of Orthodox Churches. These are the jurisdictions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Antioch, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia and Serbia, which are represented in the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops, chaired by the Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.