A Large Orthodox Monastery Is Being Established in Southwest Germany (Saarland)

This beautiful story of a resurrection of an old church is a stunning reminder of God’s mysterious and miraculous workings in our everyday lives. Along the stunning pictures of the new community, the translated article below first appeared on Foma and detailed the miraculous restoration of a monastery in Clausen, Germany and its transference from Catholicism to the Orthodox Church. As it is machine translated, we apologize in advance for any errors.


Image: The Monastery of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Clausen, Germany


On September 21, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a new Orthodox church was consecrated in the village of Clausen, near Trier, Germany, in an old monastery. Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, and guests from France, Sweden, Spain and Luxembourg gathered for the consecration.


Clausen is a very famous place on Germany's pilgrimage map. There was an apparition of Our Lady here in the 15th century. A man was hiding in the local woods from robbers and as a personal prayer made a small statue of the Mother of God, which he placed in the hollow of a tree. The Virgin Mary then later appeared to him and commanded him to build a temple there.


The monastery in Clausen at the beginning of the 20th century


Soon the place, which had previously been deaf and almost deserted, became so famous thanks to this church that pilgrims flocked here from all over Germany. As a result, a settlement was formed here in the 16th century, and a hospice was built next to the church. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a Catholic convent with a church, also dedicated to the Mother of God, was founded in the house.


After 100 years, due to the crumbling condition of the old building, the nuns had to move to another monastery. The nunnery building was given to the devout Sanders family, local farmers who invested all their efforts in maintaining the nunnery structures: they dried the walls, repaired the electricity, replaced the roof... Over time, however, it became difficult for them to maintain the complex, so the difficult decision was made to put it up for sale.


And so, began the story of the appearance of an Orthodox community in Clausen. Since 2021, the Orthodox parish in honor of St. Athanasius the Great (Moscow Patriarchate, Western European Archdiocese) near Trier began looking for a building for the church. Not all Orthodox communities in Western Europe have a permanent place to celebrate the Liturgy. The solution to this problem varies from place to place-some managed to buy the building outright, others let Orthodox Christians serve in their churches, and still others rent empty churches for a token fee over many years.


In Rhineland-Palatinate, where the village of Clausen is located, there are no empty Catholic churches; they are all overflowing with parishioners because the local Germans are very religious. And so, it was important for the Orthodox community to get its own building so that it could gather regularly for Liturgy.


Archpriest Timothy Kitnis, rector of the St. Athanasius the Great Parish, and his wife Elvira learned that a monastery building was for sale in Clausen. But the price was so out of their reach that the idea was quickly abandoned. Even by joining forces, the priest and parishioners could not have bought the large monastery complex.


Archpriest Timothy Kitnis (foreground)


And then the first miracle happened. A man contacted Fr. Timothy from Moscow and wanted to contribute to the purchase of a building for the church. He asked not to disclose his name. He and his family are Orthodox Christians who donated money to the St. Athanasius the Great community, covering a substantial part of the cost of the monastery complex. And now the issue seemed almost resolved.


After February 24, however, life changed. For external reasons, the acquisition of the monastery, which was about to take place, was thwarted. The Zanders family of farmers soon had new buyers, and the parish of St. Athanasius the Great had to give up the church in Clausen again, although now, it was thought, permanently.


But six months later, a second miracle happened. Mr. Zanders called Father Timothy and said that they agreed to change the terms of the contract, so that the parish of St. Athanasius the Great could become the new owner of the church and the buildings around it. The Zanders, being Catholics and deeply ecclesiastical people, decided it would be the right thing to do if an Orthodox community and, in time, God willing, an Orthodox monastery were located here.


Immediately after February 24, we thought it had become clear that nothing would work out with the monastery. So, there was a time of mourning, a time of receiving refugees, and we somehow "amputated" even the very thought of all this, - said the wife of Archpriest Timothy Kitnis Elvira. - It was only in June when suddenly we were told that in five days the monastery would be turned over to the Orthodox community ... The seesaw swung from an absolute negative to an absolute positive. The amplitude was so great that it became clear: all this was not given to us or for us.


And so it happened that the aspirations of three very different families - German farmers, benefactors from Russia, and the community of Athanasius the Great - coincided.


On September 21, the great consecration of the monastery church in honor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary took place, led by Metropolitan John (Reneto) of Dubna, Primate of the Archdiocese of Western European Orthodox parishes of the Russian tradition of the Moscow Patriarchate. Vladyka served with Bishop Elisey (Zherman), the rector of the church, Archpriest Timothy Kitnis, Archimandrite Alexis (Primakin), and priests Alexis Smotrov and Oleg Kukhta.


Many parishioners and guests of the new ancient church prayed at the service that day. Orthodox pilgrims from European countries, Russians from Trier, and refugees from Ukraine communed from the same cup. At a time when people seem to be separated by so many things, very different people have united around the Body and Blood of Christ.


In the monastery, of course, there is a lot of work to be done: repairs are needed, furniture for the pilgrimage rooms are needed, the territory needs to be improved... But Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, and volunteers from neighboring countries are all united in these works, too.


The first residents within the walls of the monastery were families of Ukrainian refugees - people with children. They help the new temple in every way they can. Volunteers come from different cities of Germany and Luxemburg to render all possible support. And of course, the parishioners do their best for their new home. By the time the temple was consecrated, thanks to their combined efforts, the monastery grounds had been transformed.


Much still needs to be done, but already now visitors say: this place is like Narnia. Pilgrims and those willing to work for the future monastery are already welcomed here. And of course, Father Timothy and all parishioners very much hope that in time the Lord will send nuns here, and in this wonderful place the real monastic life will start boiling up.