Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will lay the foundation stone of the first Orthodox monastery in Austria – the first in the region of Central Europe – on September 26. The ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone would have taken place on June 27, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 restrictive measures.
The foundation stone will be laid by the Ecumenical Patriarch together with the Metropolitan of Austria and Exarch of Hungary and Central Europe, Arsenios, Roman Catholic Bishop Ägidius Johann Zsifkovics, and the governor of the Austrian state of Burgenland, Hans Peter Doskozil. The construction work will begin at the beginning of October.
The first Orthodox monastery will be built in Sankt Andrä am Zicksee in the Austrian federal state of Burgenland, which is located in eastern Austria near the border with Hungary. The Roman Catholic Bishop, Ägidius Johann Zsifkovics, granted this plot of land to the Holy Metropolis of Austria for the construction of the monastery.
Announcing in October 2014 the founding and forthcoming construction of the “first organized Orthodox monastery in the region of Central Europe,” Metropolitan Arsenios said that it would be a bridge that would unite Austria with Greece, the Catholic Church with Orthodoxy.
As he had stated in Vienna at the time, the Metropolis wanted to establish and operate an Orthodox monastery under the jurisdiction of the Metropolis and Exarchate from the very beginning of his priesthood in December 2011. The Metropolitan managed to do so with the conclusion of the donation agreement, after many months of contacts and discussions with Bishop of Burgenland, Ägidius Johann Zsifkovics.
For the construction of the monastery, Pope Francis had donated EUR 100,000, a check which was festively delivered by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Arsenios of Austria in Vienna in late February 2018, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Austrian Federal Law on Orthodoxy.