“No matter what happens to Hagia Sophia, the Great Church will always be ours. Let us make Saint Nicholas a witness to that. Let us build our bright city on the hill of martyrdom where so many of our fellow citizens perished. And let Saint Nicholas and its glowing walls remind the world that the light of the Phanar, of the Great Church of Christ, will never be extinguished.
Referring to the many artistic touches to be added to the new Shrine, two of which portray the Emperors Constantine offering the City and Justinian offering Hagia Sophia to the Theotokos and Divine Child, His Eminence wished that all those who visit the Shrine in the future may understand the connection of the new building to the great edifice of Hagia Sophia.
“This artistic connection,” Elpidophoros stated, “is also a spiritual one as well. Even as Hagia Sophia is manipulated to satisfy shortsighted exclusionary objectives of ‘glory’ and dominance, the Saint Nicholas National Shrine and Church will become an open and inclusive witness of what is best in all human aspirations for the Divine.”
“For a thousand years, Hagia Sophia was the largest edifice – religious or otherwise – in the world. Saint Nicholas will be as large, but not physically. Our Church at Ground Zero will be that shining light set on the lampstand, the manifest city on the hill (Matthew 5:14,15), that welcomes dialogue, engagement, mutual respect, and above all the Faith of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Himself the Holy Wisdom and Word of God.”
“Therefore, I implore you all to take whatever sadness and pain these recent tragic events have caused you and those you love, and let us pour our hearts into finishing Saint Nicholas National Shrine as a testament to our resilience, our steadfastness, and our faith.”
The ambitious project, delayed by many years due to financial and bureaucratic issues, has attracted new funding, with the amount of cash received now totaling $25,000,000, with $19,000,000 in outstanding pledges, and only $924,691 to go to reach the goal. Total project costs are projected to be $44,970,750.
Thanks to the generous gift of $600,000 from Steve and Frosene Zeis, an all-important endowment fund has also been established for the new St. Nicholas Shrine. Major donors are responsible for having raised 94.6% of the total monies so far.
Additionally, the Skanska corporation has now come onboard and will be responsible for supervising, coordinating and insuring the project from this point inward until it is complete.
The Skanska corporation has also completed billions of dollars’ worth of construction projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey both at Ground Zero and at LaGuardia Airport.
Reconstruction of the Shrine, which was totally destroyed in the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks in 2001, is slated to begin August 1, 2020.
His Eminence Elpidophoros concluded “No matter what happens to Hagia Sophia, the Great Church will always be ours. Let us make Saint Nicholas a witness to that. Let us build our bright city on the hill of martyrdom where so many of our fellow citizens perished. And let Saint Nicholas and its glowing walls remind the world that the light of the Phanar, of the Great Church of Christ, will never be extinguished.”
Visit the LIVE EarthCam at the site of the shrine, here.
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