In a message released to donors and other friends of St. Nicholas Shrine at Ground Zero on Tuesday, Archbishop Elpidophoros announced that great strides have been made recently in the reconstruction of the church and the conceptualizing of its artwork.
Stating that he had “good news to share,” the Archbishop related that an integrated and holistic iconographic program is well on the way to implementation at the site, which was the only church to be destroyed in the 9/11 attacks.
Bishop Joachim of Amissos, the Archdiocese’s leading expert in Byzantine iconography, working in tandem with the renowned iconographer Father Loukas of Mt. Athos’ Xenophontos Monastery, collaborated together in the past week to finalize details in what the Archbishop called the shrine’s “Illumination from within,” the artwork which brings the sacred space to life.
The “Pantokrator” icon pictured here will be a prominent addition to the interior of the dome of the small shrine. This will comprise the only part of the dome that is not transparent; the rest of the round structure other than the ribs will be completely translucent so that the light from within the church radiates back up to the heavens.
The Friends of St. Nicholas group was treated to a new tour of the shrine, and shown how all the theological and artistic elements will come together in a unified vision, which is completely unique, incorporating scenes of the destruction of 9/11 with scenes from the life and miracles of St. Nicholas.
“On Earth as it is in Heaven”
The Archbishop said that once completed, the Shrine will make the phrase from the Our Father, “on Earth as it is in Heaven” a reality.
Chairman of the Friends Dennis Mehiel, along with Vice-Chairman Michael Psaros, stated in the announcement that the installation of the interior trimming and waterproofing for the skylights has now commenced.
Concrete finishing has also begun on the exterior of the church and the remaining rails for the rainscreen will be installed next.
Lanmark, the Port Authority’ of New York’s contractor, has begun the waterproofing work on the West side of the Church.
The Friends also announced two new major donors for the reconstruction of the Shrine, Arthur and Denise Katsaros, “whose faith and action,” Mehiel and Psaros said, “continues to ensure our success.”
Joining the Million Dollar Donors to the church and National Shrine, the couple stated in the letter that “our Faith and our Church have always played a vital role in our lives and, together with all Greek Orthodox Christians, we are anxiously waiting for the historic opening of our beloved St. Nicholas Church.”
“It is for this reason that we took the initiative, as Leadership 100 members, to reach out to Paulette Poulos to see how we can help to complete this project,” the Katsaroses stated. “God has granted us many blessings and it is time for us to respond to the mandate of St. Luke: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.”
“We are so grateful that we are in a position to make this gift and we are honored to offer it in support to the St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine,” they added.
Mehiel and Psaros noted in the letter that “Just since the recommencement of construction on August 3rd, we have raised an additional two million dollars” for the project.
However there are outstanding pledges amounting to $19.1 million which have still not materialized, and the Friends are actively seeking additional gifts which will augment the endowment for the Shrine.
The Friends noted that the newly-rebuilt Shrine will serve as the greatest missionary outpost of the Orthodox Christian faith in the Western Hemisphere and they urge everyone to consider donating to this worthy project.
The cost to Complete Phase II of the Shrine’s reconstruction is now set at $41,737,525. With a Project Contingency of $3,233,225, the total project budget is now $44,970,750.