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St. Nicholas: On this rock I will rebuild my Church


PHOTO:ANA-MPA/GANP/DIMITRIOS PANAGOS

On September 11, 2001 the barbaric attack not only destroyed the majestic Twin Towers but also the tiny yet historic St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, located south of the second tower of the World Trade Center. In the aftermath of its destruction, very little survived: two icons, one of St. Dionysios of Zakynthos and the other of the Zoodochos Pege, along with a few liturgical items, a book, and some candles.

Within days, the Archbishop traveled personally to Ground Zero, setting foot on the site where the Church of St. Nicholas stood, in order to conduct a memorial service for the victims of those who perished in the attacks and to offer prayers for the families in mourning.

On the Feast Day of St. Nicholas, December 6, the Archbishop, joined by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos and area clergy, celebrated a somber Vespers and memorial service near where the Church once stood. Six months after the attacks, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew also journeyed to this sacred site and presided at a memorial service with family members of the victims.

Though small in stature, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was a place of ministry and worship both for her parishioners and also for local residents and workers in the Financial District of Manhattan who would pass by and often enter the Church. Following its collapse, the legacy of this tiny Church continues to dramatically impact peoples' lives, and donations of almost $2 million have been received, as well as additional pledges of construction materials and appointments for the complete rebuilding of the Church. The city of Bari, Italy, where the relics of St. Nicholas were originally bestowed, has donated $250,000. The government of Greece has contributed $750,000 to these efforts, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate has given $50,000. The Governor of the State of New York, George Pataki, met with the Archbishop and pledged his support for including a new St. Nicholas in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site.

The task of rebuilding the Church of St. Nicholas involves careful coordination, planning and vision. To this end, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios has appointed a committee to oversee the rebuilding project. In accomplishing their objectives, the committee has met with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation so that the task of rebuilding St. Nicholas may be properly incorporated into the concept plans for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site located at Ground Zero. These concept plans, which are the product of an inclusive process, envision the rebuilding of the historic Church of St. Nicholas as a functioning parish, ministering once again to the needs of her faithful. His Eminence, however, also sees the rebuilding of St. Nicholas as a matter of spiritual destiny, so that the millions of people who will visit the historic site of the World Trade Center may find marking the place of a national tragedy, a sanctuary of solace and prayer, a concrete and visible testimony of renewed faith and hope.


Additional Stories

Memories of St. Nicholas: A Refuge
Series titled "Memories of St. Nicholas" We headed to social media to ask people to share their memories of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church before it was destroyed on September 11, 2001. This story is about a worker at City Hall who frequented St. Nicholas.
Memories of St. Nicholas: A Treasured Place
Series titled: Memories of St. Nicholas. The story from an individual who frequented St. Nicholas during their lunch hour, celebrated joys, and commemorated their grandmother's one year memorial at St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas Ground Zero: Out of the Ashes, A New Symbol of Faith
The Church of St. Nicholas that will be built at the heart of Ground Zero replacing the one destroyed on 9/11 will make the most stirring statement that any house of worship has made in the United States in a long time. It will tell America in brilliant visual images what we are, where we come from, and where we are going. A fusion of the past and the future is what characterizes the new St. Nicholas Church. Calatrava has taken his inspiration from some of the great churches in Constantinople in creating his design.
A National Shrine for Everyone
The new Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at Ground Zero will be much more than a rebuilt parish. It will be a National Shrine of our Holy Archdiocese and a place of pilgrimage for our Nation and the whole world. This recognition, this raising of the consciousness of every member of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to the value and significance of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine at Ground Zero is just the beginning. Saint Nicholas will be the only House of Worship in the entire sixteen-acre rebuilt World Trade Center site.
Our American Parthenon
In her remarkable new book, “The Parthenon Enigma,” classical archaeologist Joan Breton Connelly fortuitously highlights the similarity between the rebuilding of the World Trade Center in the wake of 9/11, and the construction of that most famous of human monuments, the Parthenon. In the Persian sack of Athens in 480 B.C., the Older Parthenon, roughly in the same spot and yet unfinished, was destroyed in the fires that swept over the Acropolis. She writes of the motivations of Periklean Athens, a generation later, to rebuild the Parthenon:
A Tale of Three Churches: Part 2
Nearly eighteen hundred years ago, a famous man sardonically asked: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” As Orthodox Christians, we know that there is an answer and that answer is “Very much!” In the same way, we have seen that New York City has much to do with Jerusalem – as the world’s two most famous cenotaphs are located in each. But we began last issue with three Churches in our tale, and it is time now to include that third House of the Lord, and to behold how all three are intertwined in the work of salvation and history.
A Tale of Three Churches: Part 1
On September 11, 2001, in an act of terror and hatred, our Nation was attacked and three thousand of our fellow human beings were mercilessly murdered. The horrific deaths of the innocent victims of that tragic day were brought about by a hatred fueled by perverse and perverted religious views. In the face of the horror of that day, we all witnessed the heroic love of the responders who gave their last measure to save others. This altruistic love is at the heart of the rebuilding of the Saint Nicholas Church at Ground Zero, a National Shrine of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
The City Set On A Hill Cannot Be Hidden
It should not difficult for anyone to see that Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at the World Trade Center, a National Shrine of our Archdiocese, will truly be, as the Lord preached in the Sermon on the Mount, “the city set on a hill that cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
Rebuilding St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
The original St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church cast a reverent and faithful shadow on the World Trade Center. Greeks purchased the row house in 1892 as a community home, and it became the Saint Nicholas Church in 1916. For many Greeks immigrants, it would have been their first stop after seeing the Statue of Liberty and disembarking from Ellis Island. The little church was a spiritual jewel, open to all. Generations of New Yorkers stopped in to light a candle, say a prayer, or just sit quietly.
St. Nicholas: On this rock I will rebuild my Church
On September 11, 2001 the barbaric attack not only destroyed the majestic Twin Towers but also the tiny yet historic St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, located south of the second tower of the World Trade Center. In the aftermath of its destruction, very little survived: two icons, one of St. Dionysios of Zakynthos and the other of the Zoodochos Pege, along with a few liturgical items, a book, and some candles.