Mor Awgen Monastery at Arth, Switzerland Consecrated
June 20, 1999
The monastery of Mor Awgen at Arth, Switzerland was consecrated by H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas on June 20, 1990. The monastery building was acquired in 1996 by H.E. Mor Julius Issa Cicek, Archbishop of the Central Europe diocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
The new monastery is in a scenic location, adjacent to a large and beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, in the village of Arth in central Switzerland, 35 km from Zurich. The beautiful monastery building has 3 floors with 24 rooms. The first floor has a chapel. The library, which is located at the second floor, contains 8000 books. A 2m high wall encloses the monastery compound.
The monastery was established in 1665 by the Catholic Capuchin Order of monks and was consecrated on August 20, 1667. In 1996, His Eminence Archbishop Mor Julius Issa Cicek purchased it for 1 million Swiss franks. It is now registered as property of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
The consecration ceremony was attended by over 5000 Syrian Orthodox Christians from all over Europe (Holland, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden), Turkey and some Arab Countries. Eight Archbishops, over 50 priests and delegates from other churches participated in the event.
His Holiness began the consecration prayers of the church on the morning of June 20, 1999, assisted by their Eminences, the Archbishops. After completion of the order of consecration, His Holiness proceeded, surrounded by the archbishops and preceded by tens of priests, from the monastery church to the large ancient church of the village where the faithful had gathered to attend the Holy Mass. There His Holiness celebrated the Holy Mass assisted by all the Archbishops present. Archbishop Julius Cicek spoke, in the Tur `Abdin dialect of Syriac, about the circumstances in which the monastery was purchased and read the names of contributors. His Holiness then gave a remarkable sermon in Arabic , which was translated into the Tur `Abdin dialect of Syriac by Archbishop H.E. Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan.
The splendid celebration was attended by many religious, intellectual and diplomatic dignitaries as well as news media. At the conclusion of the Holy Mass, complementary dinner was served by the monastery at a nearby restaurant.
Mor Awgen is the third monastery that His Eminence Mor Julius Issa Cicek has established since he became the Archbishop of Central Europe. His untiring effort has resulted in a vibrant Syrian Orthodox community in Europe with several churches. Much of the community consists of Syrian immigrants from all over the world, especially from Turkey. Encouraged by the ardor of the Syrian Orthodox faithful in the archdiocese, Archbishop Cicek acquired the first monastery in Europe, in Holland, naming it The Monastery of St. Ephraim. By doing so, he opened a new page in the history of the Syrian Church. His Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka I, Iwas, consecrated this monastery in 1984, which has served as the headquarters of the archdiocese.
In 1995, Archbishop Julius Cicek bought another monastery in Warburg, Germany and named it The Monastery of St. Jacob of Sarug. It has since become the headquarters of the Patriarchal Vicarate of Germany, and the residence of His Eminence Mor Dionysius Issa Gurbouz, the Patriarchal Vicar.