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, recognised the need for a ministry to 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 at 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 the pastor in 1979. During his tenure the congregation and its activities grew. Fr. Timothy Clegg joined him as co-pastor from 1983-84. 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 as interim pastor until Fr. Charles Talar began his pastorate in June 1986. Fr. David Buescher was our pastor from 1990-94 and was followed by Rev. Raymond M. Rafferty from 1994-98.
Fr. Sjaak de Boer, our present pastor, a Mill Hill missionary, obtained his Ph.D. from Louvain University. He worked in Kenya and in Brazil where he was 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 the 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 but on December 2nd 2007 The Church of Our Saviour became the full owner of the church.
The Dutch parish still has two weekly Masses in the church, on Wednesday at 12.30 and Saturday evening at 17.30 and we also have 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 had a Mass and reception for Fr. Sjaak’s 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. This way we hope to cover some costs.
Our Parish is truly international. In January 2014 we had about 1200 registered families. People come from every continent and some 97 different nationalities to worship and work together as one body, and it is this that helps to create the lively spirit which exists in the Church of Our Saviour.
Short history of our Church Building, Organ, and Bells
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.
Consecration of the first parish church built by
architect Nicolaas Molenaar, only months after he
finished the magnificent RC church in the Elandstraat,
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).
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 Christianand
Roman architecture and is made as an earlyChristian
Arie Theeuwisse from Amsterdam was the sculpturist
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 and restored in their glory by
Sally Williams in 2013-2014.
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
The Organs and 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.
Construction of a wooden organ case, new console, and
revision of the pipes by the Pels organ company,
supported by many volunteers.
2011 Installation of the Atrium Organ (5 stops), built by
Casson organ builders from London in 1903.