Measures to address the coronavirus pandemic have led to the postponement of the official foundation of the first Greek Orthodox monastery in Austria – which will also be the first in the region of Central Europe – on June 27, by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as it was announced today in Vienna by the Metropolis of Austria.
The first Greek Orthodox monastery is to be built in Sankt Andrä am Zicksee in the Austrian federal state of Burgenland, in eastern Austria on the border with Hungary, in an area granted to the Metropolis of Austria by the Austrian Roman Catholic Bishop Ägidius Johann Zsifkovics, especially for the construction of the Monastery.
The announcement does not mention a new date for the foundation, which would take place by the Ecumenical Patriarch and Metropolitan Arsenios of Austria and Exarch of Hungary and Mid-Europe.
Announcing in October 2014 the founding and forthcoming construction of the “first organized Orthodox monastery in the region of Central Europe”, Metropolitan Arsenios had expressed his belief that it would be a “bridge” that would unite Austria with Greece, the Catholic Church with Orthodoxy.
The donation contract was symbolically received personally, in an official ceremony in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Eisenstadt, the capital of Burgeland, on November 11, 2014, by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew himself. The Bishop of Burgenland had emphasized 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 is Andrew the Apostle, 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 festively delivered in late February 2018 in Vienna by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Arsenios of Austria as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Austrian Federal Law on Orthodoxy.
The monastery in Sankt Andrä is expected to consist of four square-shaped wings, in the center of which there will be a church, the highest point of which will be about 13 meters high, and which will be erected in the first phase of work.
The construction of the other buildings will follow – the cells for the monks, reception halls, library, dining room, adjoining rooms and workshops, while they also plan to build a guesthouse.