Early on Monday morning, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, with the faithful and other members of the clergy present, consecrated the rebuilt St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, the only place of worship destroyed in 9/11.
After an extraordinarily difficult period in which it sometimes seemed that the church, which is located at Ground Zero, would not be rebuilt, the consecration marked a significant milestone for the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox faithful.
Named after the patron saint of sailors, the church was the first stopping point for many Greek immigrants after they left Ellis Island.
As towering skyscrapers went up around it, the modest church added just one floor to the whitewashed structure that sat, for years, in the shadow of the Twin Towers. The building was reduced to ruins when the south tower collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.
The religious ceremony, which took place nearly 21 years after the September 11 attacks, included the Divine Liturgy and the placement of St Nicholas’s Holy Relics in the altar of the church.
Consecration of St Nicholas Church
As well as Archbishop Elpidophoros, other prominent members of the clergy such as Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh, and Alexander Karloutsos and Andreas Vithoulkas, both Protopresbyters of the Ecumenical Throne, took part in the ceremony.
Representatives from the Church, including the two living former Archbishops of America Spyridon and Demetrios, were invited to sign the altar after its consecration.
“Today, these Holy and Precious Remains of a Saint – whose own history stretches back across the millennia and across the ocean, to Asia Minor and the glory of Byzantium that lives on in our Ecumenical Patriarchate – are joined to the history of those for whom the World Trade Center was their tomb…”
“These modern martyrs – slain by unjust hatred – were denied even the chance of burial. And so, with today’s Consecration, Ground Zero remains forever Sacred Ground – a place of remembrance, a place of reconciliation, a place of forgiveness and a place of love,” Elpidophoros stated in his homily.
“All of you who have gathered here, whether within these shining marble walls made of the same stone that graces the Parthenon of Athens, or standing and praying with us outside in Liberty Park – which, on this Fourth of July, could not be a more fitting place in which to participate – all of you are bearing witness to this Consecration and what it means for the Church of Saint Nicholas, destroyed on 9/11,” he continued.
In addition to Archbishop Elpidophoros’s moving homily, Dennis Mehiel, Friends of St. Nicholas Chairman, and Michael Psaros, Vice-Chairman, also spoke at the ceremony.
Mehiel and Psaros were also recognized as Centennial Honorees, or people who have accomplished great feats for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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