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Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, was on a visit to the Netherlands from June 18 to 21, 2004.

Metropolitan Kirill arrived to Amsterdam from Oslo on June 18. He was met at the airport by the clergymen of the Hague and the Netherlands diocese: Rector of St.Alexander Nevsky parish in Rotterdam and secretary of the diocese Archpriest Grigory Krasnotsvetov; Rector of the Church of St.Mary Magdalene in the Hague Archimandrite Nikon (Yakimov) and Priest Sergy Merks.

In the afternoon Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in the Kingdom of the Netherlands K.G. Gevorgian gave dinner in honour of Metropolitan Kirill. Attending the reception were Archpriest Grigory Krasnotsvetov, Archimandrite Nikon, minister-counsellor A.Yu.Ivanov.

K.G.Gevorgian and Metropolitan Kirill expressed their satisfaction with the state of relations between the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and representatives of the Russian State authorities in Holland. Metropolitan Kirill emphasized a particular importance of the religious factor for establishing and maintaining good relations among nations.

That same day the DECR MP Chairman visited the parish of St.Mary Magdalene in the Hague, where he met with its clergymen and parishioners.

On June 19 Metropolitan Kirill celebrated the All-Night Vigil in the St.Nicholas Church in Amsterdam. After the Divine service he met and talked with the clergymen and parishioners.


On June 20, the Russian Orthodox Church dedicated to the Holy and Right-Believing Prince Alexander Nevsky (the Hague and the Netherlands diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate) was consecrated in Rotterdam, which is the second in size city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the largest port of Europe.

The Office of the Great Consecration and the Divine Liturgy were celebrated by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate together with His Eminence Simon, Archbishop of Brussels and Belgium and temporarily of the Hague and the Netherlands, Bishop Athenagoras of Synop (Patriarchate of Constantinople), Rector of the church Archpriest Grigory Krasnotsvetov, other clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church in Holland and Belgium, Orthodox clergymen of other Local Orthodox Churches and ordained guests from St.Petersburg.

Attending the celebration were the Mayor of Rotterdam Iva Opstelten, representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches, Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Serbia and Cyprus in the Netherlands, representatives of diplomatic missions of other states, international organizations, different churches, Orthodox parishes of Holland and Belgium, and hundreds of parishioners.

Also attending the Divine service were the builders of the church: Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Baltic Construction Company (BCC) I.A.Naivalt, General Director of the BCC Financial and Industrial Group P.S.Chitipakhovian, General Director of the BCC-South Company A.D.Antipov. On behalf of the Baltic Construction Company I.A.Naivalt presented the Rector of the church with a large icon of St.Alexander Nevsky in icon case.

During the Office of the Consecration the altar was covered by a gilded overlay - a blessed gift from the Cathedral Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God in St.Petersburg to the new church.

At the Little Entrance Metropolitan Kirill presented Archpriest Grigory Krasnotsvetov with a Patriarchal award - the cross with jewels in 'consideration of his work done for the construction of the church.'

Metropolitan Kirill also delivered Patriarchal awards to the constructors and benefactors of the Alexander Nevsky church. The BCC General Director P.S.Chitipakhovian, General Director of the BCC-South A.D.Antipov and Chief specialist for special projects of the Rotterdam City Council Willem Lustig were presented with the Order of St.Sergius of Radonezh.


Archpriest Gennady Zverev, Rector of St.Sophia Cathedral in the town of Pushkin, handed over an icon of the Holy and Right-Believing Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky with a particle of his relics - a gift to the church in Rotterdam from the Alexandro-Nevskaya Lavra in St.Petersburg.

The Rector Archpriest Grigory Krasnotsvetov thanked all those present for common work, support and prayers on behalf of the clergy and parishioners and expressed his hope that all believers will with one accord devote themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14) at the new stage of the parish life as they did in the years of construction of this house of God. He presented the guests with the gifts from the parish - wall plates of the Depft porcelain with a picture of the new church.

After the Liturgy Metropolitan Kirill presented the church with the 'Feodorovskaya' Icon of the Mother of God and addressed people with his archpastoral homily.

Metropolitan Kirill cordially congratulated all those gathered on the remarkable event - the consecration of the church and thanked all people who took part in its construction and decoration.

Metropolitan Kirill expressed his gratitude to the city authorities of Rotterdam in the person of the Mayor for their invariable attention to the needs and interests of the Russian Orthodox parishioners and for support with the construction of the church.

Metropolitan Kirill paid special attention in his homily to common church prayers of the people of God and noted its indisputable effectiveness, importance and power. Metropolitan Kirill expressed his confidence in that the newly consecrated church will be a genuine house of prayer for many compatriots, who on this or that ground have found themselves in a foreign country.

Metropolitan Kirill handed over to Mayor I.Opstelten an album with colourful illustrations of the holy shrines of the Holy Trinity and St.Sergius Laura.

'This church is the first Orthodox church in the Netherlands and one of the first in Europe built by our Church after the end of the difficult time in Russia, - Metropolitan Kirill said. - That is why the construction and consecration is a symbol of the current events in Russia and Europe'.

'The fact that the new Russian Orthodox churches are being built in Western Europe is very important. This importance is not only religious', - Metropolitan Kirill stressed.

'These new churches are not only a center of spiritual life of the Russian diaspora, a place where people meet God and people of the same faith, but also a kind of cultural and religious representations of our country abroad. People living in the West would not be surprised by the bridges, tunnels, towers or skyscrapers, while our church architecture surprises and attracts them, because through the Russian church buildings the foreigners come into contact with the great culture and perceive its beauty, power and dignity', - the Metropolitan added.


Metropolitan Kirill expressed his hope for the newly-consecrated church to be a place, where pastoral work will be done along with a wide social and educational activities aimed at maintaining the national spiritual and cultural self-consciousness of people who live now beyond the frontiers of their Fatherland.'

Mayor of Rotterdam Iva Opstelten said that the consecration of the Orthodox church was an important event not only for the Russian community and for people of other nationalities, who confess Orthodoxy, but for the whole city, which the Russian church adorns now.

This event is no less important for the revealing of the distinctiveness of different cultures and traditions and for promoting a dialogue among them. In this case it concerns people of Russian origin and from other CIS countries living in our city as well as people from other countries who confess the Orthodox religion'.

'Last year, - the Mayor said, - I was lucky enough to attend the festivities dedicated to the 300th anniversary of St.Petersburg. The Orthodox churches of the city made a deep impression on me. I am happy that such a church is now to be found in my native city.'

Mayor Iva Opstelten expressed his hope that the consecration of the Russian Orthodox church will contribute to the strengthening of relations between the twin-cities Rotterdam and St.Petersburg, as well between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Russian Federation.

There are five parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Netherlands now, but none of them had a standard-type church building. Several generations of the Russian parishioners have dreamed of an Orthodox church of their own in Rotterdam. The emigrants of the first wave appeared here in the 1920s and 1930s, and young women driven off from Russia by the Germans have found refuge in Holland after the Second World War.

For the last ten years the Orthodox parish in Rotterdam has considerably increased in number, and the premises for prayer in an apartment in the city, where the community has gathered sine 1959, could no longer accommodate Orthodox Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians and Moldavians.

To realize the project of constructing a new church, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia gave his blessing for setting up 'Russian Orthodox church construction in Rotterdam Foundation'. Money for the construction of the church was raised partly by the parish and partly by the donors and benefactors.

The church was built by the Baltic Construction Company, and a gilded cupola was brought from Russia. The iconostasis was made and painted by the students of the School of Icon-painting at the Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary in Sergiev Posad under the leadership of Hegumen Luka (Golovkov).


The one-dome Russian Orthodox church was built in the centre of Rotterdam near the embankment of the River Maas and the magnificent Erasmus of Rotterdam Bridge. By its architecture the church resembles the famous 'Pokrov-na-Nerli' church.

Premises are provided for a library and a large hall, and a cultural centre of the Russian-speaking community will be set up in the new church.

After the Divine service the sisterhood of the parish gave a festive reception for the participants and guests of the celebration in the Alexander Nevsky church.

The next day Metropolitan Kirill visited the town of Saandam with the house of Peter the Great and a famous monument 'Tsar the Carpenter' donated to the town by Tsar Nicholas II the Passion-bearer.

Mass media in the Netherlands paid much attention to the consecration of the Russian church. National TV channels showed a solemn ceremony in the Alexander Nevsky church. The next day all major newspapers of the country published photos of the consecration and articles about the event.

On June 21 Metropolitan Kirill left for Moscow.

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