Articles Church People Clergy and Monastics Deacon Andrei Psarev

Hegumen Serapion (Karpov)

On the right: Fr. Serapion (Karpov) rector of Russian parishes in the Netherlands. On the left: Reader John Andersen, the warden of St. Mary of Egypt church, during my second visit in 2015.

A Humble Servant of the Lord

Hegumen Serapion (Karpov) passed away on this day in 1967.

I visited St. Mary of Egypt parish in Amsterdam for the first time in January of 1990. I was exploring Russian Orthodoxy abroad and spending a week or so in Amsterdam. The small parish did not have a permanent priest, but the warden Grigorii Samoilenko, from the World War II immigration, lived there. He warmly received me and offered tea.

This parish was founded by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, who, since 1951 and until 1962, was the ruling hierarch of the Western European diocese of the Russian Church Abroad. Fr. Serapion came to the Netherlands from France in 1958. St. John was a chaplain at the Russian Military Cadet Corps in Versailles. And in 1954 he tonsured the future Fr. Serapion a monk there.

I found two accounts about Fr. Serapion in the major publication of the Russian Church Abroad Pravoslavanaia Rus’. They tell us how he bought a bobbin recorder to share a recording of the Paschal service with bedridden Russian Orthodox. (Fr. Serapion took a credit to buy this deck.) There is information that despite Holland being a small country, some people would not travel to the churches in the Hague or Amsterdam for services and wait for decades until Fr. Serapion would come to their town and serve the liturgy. The money that he would receive, Fr. Serapion gave to the people so that they could pay for a ride to church or to choir singers. So, we learn all these details. He had a good heart, and his sermons were simple. There is information that singers in churches in the Hague and Amsterdam were Dutch protestants who loved Russian church music. And some sang with the famous Serge Jaroff. We learned that Fr. Serapion lived in a hotel near a train station in the Dutch capital. Some of the Dutch people converted through him.

But… there is nothing on Fr. Serapion’s biography. Because Fr. Serapion knew the ROCOR priest in Brussels, Archimandrite Theodosii (Trushevich), since 1932, I gathered that Fr. Serapion also belonged to the first Russian emigration.


Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov’ Zagranitsei 1918-1968 [The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad 1917-1968] (Jerusalem, 1968).

Antoine Niviere, Pravoslavnyie sviashchensoluzhitel, bogoslovy I tserkovnyie deiteli russkoi emigratsii v Zapadnoi I tserntral’noi Evrope: 1920-1995 [Orthodox clergy, theologians and church activists of the Russian immigration in Western and Central Europe: 1920-1995] (Moscow-Paris, 2007).

Regina van Seters, “Pamiati ieromonakha Serapiona” [Priestmonk Serpion:In Memorium] Pravoslavnaia Rus’, no. 12, 1967.

Vera Tatu, “Pamiati ieromonakha Serapiona,” Pravoslavnaia Rus’, no 22, 1967.

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