The Church of Our Saviour is the English Speaking International Roman Catholic Parish of Den Haag. The name Our Saviour was chosen because it is the name of the oldest chapel in The Netherlands, and the original name of the Pope’s own Cathedral in Rome, now St. John Lateran.
The parish came into being in 1953 when Fr. Willem Vroom, a Dutch Air Force Chaplain, recognized the need for a ministry for the English-speaking Catholic military personnel stationed in Den Haag. Fr. Theodore Zwartkruis, who studied for the priesthood at the American College in Louvain, Belgium, and later became the Bishop of Haarlem, assisted Fr. Vroom with the initial congregation.
In order to meet the needs of this rapidly expanding community, the Redemptorist Fathers were contacted. They offered to celebrate Mass with the community in their house chapel on Laan Copes van Cattenburch. At first, they took turns celebrating Sunday Mass, but later assigned Fr. Hubert Vijgen to the congregation as its first pastor. He was succeeded by Fr. Bernard van Schaick, who guided the parish for 22 years until he retired in 1979. During Fr. van Schaick’s pastorate, the parish outgrew the Redemptorist house chapel and moved to the Edith Stein College Chapel.
Fr. James Finley became pastor in 1979. During his tenure, the congregation and its activities grew. Fr. Timothy Clegg joined him as co-pastor from 1983 to 1984. Fr. Stephen Mangen then served as co-pastor with Fr. Clegg until June 1985.
Rev. Joseph de Water was appointed as pastor by the Cura Migratorum and served until September 1985. Fr. James Halstead OSA, an Augustinian priest studying at the Catholic University of Louvain, followed him as interim pastor until Fr. Charles Talar began his pastorate in June 1986. Fr. David Buescher was our pastor from 1990 to 1994 and was followed by Rev. Raymond M. Rafferty from 1994 to 1998.
Fr. Sjaak de Boer, our present pastor, is a Mill Hill missionary and obtained his Ph.D. from Louvain University. He worked in Kenya and in Brazil where he was a university chaplain and pastor of the Itaguai Cathedral in Greater Rio de Janeiro. Fr. Sjaak began his ministry in Den Haag in July 1998.
In the pastoral year 2003-2004, we celebrated our Golden Jubilee, and after 25 years of worshipping in the Aloysius College and a short stay at Christ the King Church in Mariahoeve, we moved into our own permanent church building in December 2003. We shared this building at Bezuidenhoutseweg 157 with the Dutch parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel until December 2nd, 2007 when The Church of Our Saviour became the full owner of the church.
We host an Indonesian Parish, which celebrates Mass on the first and third Sundays of the month.
After a period of extensive renovation, the ‘Official Opening’ of our new Pastoral Centre took place on Saturday 29th October 2011. It was a weekend of celebration since on Sunday 30th October we also had a Mass and reception for Fr. Sjaak for the Silver Jubilee of his ordination.
Our Pastoral Centre is used by many different parish and non-parish groups and the Atrium and bar areas can be rented for various functions. In this way, we hope to cover some costs.
Our Parish is truly international. To date, we have about 1700 registered families. People come from every continent and around 97 different nationalities worship and work together as one body. It is this that helps create the lively spirit which exists in the Church of Our Saviour.
1895 – Our Lady of Good Counsel
Start of the parish of ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel’ as amended by bishop Caspar Bottemanne of Haarlem. First parish priest is fr. William Lord Wittert van Hoogland.
1898 – First parish church
Consecration of the first parish church built by architect Nicolaas Molenaar, only months after he finished the magnificent RC church in the Elandstraat, the Hague.
1945 – World War II
The bombing of the Bezuidenhout neighbourhood took place on 3 March 1945, when the RAF accidentally bombed it instead of the nearby woods where German launching facilities had been used to attack UK cities. Sadly, the pilots were issued with the wrong coordinates and got confused by fog and clouds. The bombing caused many casualties and 20,000 people left homeless. They had to be quartered in the Eastern- and Central Netherlands. The first parish church too was completely destroyed. At the end of the Marialaan parallel to the church you will find the monument of Juliana of Stolberg and her five sons’, which survived the bombing and now also serves as a monument for the bombing victims at Remembrance Day every year at 3 March. (Juliana’s oldest son was the 1533 born William the Silent, Prince of Orange, and ancestor of the Monarchy of the Netherlands).
1955 – Church Altar
The new Church and main altar built by Leiden architect Jan van der Laan are consecrated by bishop John Huibers of Haarlem. Parish priest then was father Wim van Alphen. The church has forms referring to early Christian and Roman architecture and is made as an early Christian square basilica. Arie Theeuwisse from Amsterdam was the sculptor who made the statues of Saint Joseph and Mary, and the baptismal fount including the small statue of Saint John the Baptist on top of it. The stations of the Cross and the main Cross above the main altar were wonderfully made by self-taught painter Lambert Simon.
1955 – Church Bells
On the feast of Christ the King three bronze churchbells are blessed and installed in the Campanile churchtower. Their proud names are: H. Mary (1203 kilo), Joseph (841 kilo) and Willibrord (585 kilo). The inscription on little Willibrord is “the sheep hear my voice; I call my sheep by name, and lead them out” (John 10 : 3). One month later a new 3-manual pipe organ (33 stops) in the new church is built by Pels & sons organ builders from Alkmaar and was first used just before Advent.
1993 – The Organ
Construction of a wooden organ case, new console, and revision of the pipes by the Pels organ company, supported by many volunteers.
2006 – The Main Altar
The main altar was moved to the center of the Sanctuary.
2007 – Three Kings
After 112 years, a new parish is formed and named ‘Three Kings’ by Rotterdam bishop Adrian van Luyn. The Benoordenhout parish church of Saint Paschal Baylon is the new parish church, while our church is handed over and trusted to The English Speaking International Roman Catholic Church of Our Saviour.
2008 – Transfer of Ownership
The ownership of the buildings was officially transferred to the R.C. Parish Church of Our Saviour. A large renovation and restoration of the entire site was started.
2009 – The Four Evangelists
Icons of the four Evangelists, painted by Sally Williams, were placed above the side entrances of the church.
2011 – Pastoral Center
The new Pastoral Center was inaugurated.
2020 – The Hollow Men
A monument commemorating the refugees who perished trying to seek refuge in Europe was placed in the Church garden. The statue, entitled “The Hollow Men” was inspired by the poem by T. S. Elliot created by artist Linette Dijk.
2022 – Fr. Sjaak’s 25th Year as Pastor
Fr. Sjaak begins his 25th year as COS pastor.
2014 – Christ the Teacher
The icon of Christ the Teacher was painted on the back of the existing altar cross by Sally Williams.