The newest Coptic Orthodox church in The Netherlands is the church of St Mary and St Verena in Bussum, Flevoland. It was opened last week by Anba Arseny, Bishop of The Netherlands and Belgium.
Bishop Arseny presided over Holy Mass in the new church, joined by a number of Coptic priests in The Netherlands. Having brought relics of St Verena to place in the new church, he conducted the ritual of anointing the relics with sweet spices as the deacon choir chanted praises for the Holy Virgin and St Verena. The tradition is that relics of saints are placed in a small silver box which is in turn placed in a closed wooden cylindrical box. It is this box that is bathed in sweet spices, after which it is slipped into a red satin fitting bag that is again put into a red velvet one embroidered in golden threads with the name of the saint.
St Verena is a 3rd-century Coptic woman associated with the Theban legion which fought with the Roman army in Europe, and in which her brother St Maurice served. When St Maurice was martyred in what is today Switzerland, Verena stayed on in Zurzach, aiding the poor, nursing the sick, and promoting hygienic practices. She is thus always depicted carrying a jug of water and a typical Egyptian comb.
The church in Bussum was previously a Catholic Cathedral; the Coptic Diocese of The Netherlands and Belgium bought it. It accommodates 1,200 worshippers.
6 October 2018