On Sunday, October 16, 2022, Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium and Exarch of the Netherlands and Luxembourg paid his first pastoral visit to the Holy Monastery of St. John the Baptist, which is located in the historical center of the beautiful city of The Hague.
Until recently, the Holy Monastery was under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow but submitted a request to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to submit to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which the Patriarch and the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate accepted in September of this year. The monastery was then transferred to the Holy Metropolis of Belgium.
This Sunday, October 16, the Metropolitan performed the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Monastery along with priests and deacons of the Holy Metropolis.
In his sermon, the Metropolitan stressed that “in our warlike and sinful times, the Church encourages us to listen to the word of God and repent: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19). The word of God, simple and comprehensive, is addressed to all of us and calls us to carry Christ within us. Let us not neglect the word of our Lord, but let us be patient and give everything we can to increase it as much as possible and reach salvation.”
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Metropolitan said that this was a historic day. In fact, we should not have the choice of which Bishop we belong to. “The Orthodox ecclesiastical principle is simply that all believers in a region, and therefore all parishes and monasteries, depend on a bishop who is in a particular place. There can only be one bishop in one city and one region. It is good now to be able to realize the Body of Christ together, united in diversity.” He also stressed that “we are called to bear witness to the world in which we live. It is a major responsibility. We have to do it with unity and love. There can be no war in our time and certainly not between Orthodox Christians.” He also thanked Gerontissa Makrina and Sister Anna, as well as the priests and deacons who came to The Hague for the occasion.
The Holy Monastery was founded in 1954 as a community of monks belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). There were two Dutch students of St. John Maximovic, the Roman Catholic monks Jacob Akkersdijk and Adriaan Korporaal, who had joined the Orthodox Church and formed the basis of this monastery. In 1965, Father Jacob was ordained bishop of the same Church. In the early 1970s, the monks bought the buildings of a former Roman Catholic monastery, which was then used by nuns. In 1972, the bishop and all those who belonged to his diocese were transferred to the Patriarchate of Moscow. Archimandrite Adriaan devoted his whole life to praying and translating liturgical services into Dutch. In 1991, Archbishop Jacob fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 77, while Archimandrite Adriaan died in 2002 at the age of 89. It should also be recalled that the late Gerontissa Maria, originally settled in the Monastery of The Hague. He later founded the Holy Monastery in Asten.