Convent of St. Elisabeth, Grand Duchess (Buchendorf, Bavaria)
The Convent of St. Elisabeth, Grand Duchess is a women's monastery located near Munich, located in the small town of Buchendorf, Bavaria, Germany. Founded in October, 2005, it is the first and only Orthodox women's monastery to be located within Germany. The convent is under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and is under the spiritual direction of Archbishop Mark (Arndt) of Berlin.
The idea of founding a women's monastery in Bavaria was originally that of Mother Maria (Sidiropoulo), who is a nun who was living in an apartment in Bavaria with other nuns. In 2005, she approached Archbishop Mark about the creation of a convent in Bavaria. He approved of the idea, provided that the place be no further than 80km from the city of Munich. As it turns out, the nuns found the property in Buchendorf, which is the site of a former Roman Catholic monastery, and not only is it only 19km from the Cathedral of the Holy New-Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Munich, but it is also only 17km from the Monastery of St. Job of Pochaev, which is where Archbishop Mark lives. This situation has made it possible for Archbishop Mark to make almost weekly visits.
The official opening of the convent was November 1, 2005. The property is currently under a 99-year lease, though the nuns hope to be able to purchase the property outright in the future. The patron of the convent is Elizabeth the New Martyr because Germany is the country from which St. Elisabeth hails.
The sisters all have obediences, including working in the garden to provide food for the sisters, baking prosphora and bread, and working in the sewing workshop. The convent is supported by their work; much of what they sew are things like Liturgical vestments and baptismal gowns. Furthermore, they have a bookbinding studio to preserve and restore old books. However, all the sisters are required to attend all the services as their first priority: even if there are outstanding orders for items, this is of lower priority. The convent celebrates a full cycle of Divine services, including Divine Liturgy, which is served three times weekly. In 2009, Mother Maria was named head of this community, which, as of 2016, numbers eleven.
Every summer, the convent is host to a summer camp for girls ages 8-13. The camp is named for Martha and Mary. The purpose of the camp is to give girls who are living in countries which are not primarily Orthodox a chance to get to know other Orthodox girls as they learn more about their faith and life lived to serve God. The camps are conducted primarily in Russian, and although the program of the camp changes yearly, the girls also learn crafts and skills that are useful as part of a household.
The convent has also begun providing a place to stay for people, primarily from Russia, who need a place to stay while receiving medical care in Germany.
The convent celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2015. At this time, a new refectory was blessed by Bishop Agapit (Gorachek) of Stuttgart.
- Official Website (German/Russian)
- With One Heart, In One Spirit interview (2012) with Mother Maria (Sidiropoulo), abbess of the convent (pt. 1)
- With One Heart, In One Spirit interview (2012) with Mother Maria (Sidiropoulo), abbess of the convent (pt. 2)
- Tenth anniversary celebrations at the Convent in Bavaria