“The Blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch at Ground Zero”
My Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ, Could there have been a more fitting climax to the Apostolic Visit of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States than the “Opening of the Doors” service at the Saint Nicholas National Shrine, and the crowning of the Church with the Holy Cross? The dramatic raising of the permanent Cross atop Church, and the presentation of the Precious Relic of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker at the “Opening of the Doors.” when His All Holiness gave his special blessing to the Shrine, was truly a crowning moment of the Visit. The fact that occurred on the very day of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Enthronement of His All Holiness as Ecumenical Patriarch – which I also honor as the feast of my Patron Saint, the Holy Martyr Elpidophoros – made the day all the more extraordinary.
Therefore, in place of my usual message, I present to you once again the message of His All Holiness at Ground Zero and our Saint Nicholas National Shrine. These are words that merit our consideration again and again, as we come closer each and every day to the full operation of the Shrine as our ministry to the Nation.
REMARKS OF HIS ALL HOLINESS
B A R T H O L O M E W
At the Special Opening of the Doors of the
Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine
World Trade Center
New York, New York
(November 2, 2021)
* * *
Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros,
Most Reverend Metropolitans and Bishops,
Esteemed Members of the Friends of Saint Nicholas,
Honorable Archons of the Ecumenical Throne,
Beloved Children in the Lord,
We stand here today, on this Hallowed Ground at the World Trade Center, where the world changed in a cruel and terrible moment twenty years ago.
We stand here, before Church and National Shrine of Saint Nicholas, the Wonder-working Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, whose historical See is an integral part of the Holy Mother and Great Church of Christ: our Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
We stand here today, before a Church resurrected by faith and devotion, and extraordinary toil and labor.
We stand here today, as we celebrate the Thirtieth Anniversary of our Enthronement as the Successor to the Holy Apostle Andrew, the First-Called Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And we stand here today, celebrating the Patronal Feast of our spiritual son, His Eminence Elpidophoros, to whom we have entrusted the hopes or our Eparchy in this Great Nation, the Holy Archdiocese of America.
This Sacred Ground of the American experience, is where the Orthodox Christian Faith will take the lead in manifesting to the world that there is more good than evil, that there is life beyond death, and that love will always triumph over hatred.
We have come to this place to open Doors on Greek Orthodoxy to the American Consciousness of what the best in religion can be.
We have come to this place to open Doors on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Her Spiritual Mission and History.
We have come to this place to open Doors on the story of the Immigrants who came to these shores in the shadow of Lady Liberty, searching for a new life and new opportunities.
We have come to this place to open Doors to promote inclusion, tolerance, and mutual understanding among all peoples of faith and good will.
We have come to this place to open Doors of Saint Nicholas the Worker of Miracles, because he is the patron of all sojourners – from those who died on 9/11, to those who mourn their loss, to the pilgrims who will enter this National Shrine.
From the Lands of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, that established the Christian Faith throughout the Oikoumene,
From the Queen of Cities – Constantinople, which preserves the authentic Traditions of Scripture, Monasticism, and is the guardian of the Holy Mountain Athos,
From the Domain of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker himself, we bring his physical and spiritual presence, in the Sacred Relic of his Holy Hand, which will find an eternal resting place within this National Shrine.
And we bring our paternal and Patriarchal Blessing to this Special Opening of the Doors, that inaugurates the countdown to the day when the Shrine will be fully open to all people, and for all people.
A short time ago, we blessed and raised Cross of Christ to be permanently affixed atop the dome.
This crowning of the Church by the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is our sign and symbol of victory, for Νικόλαος means: “Victory of the People.” The cowardly attack that wrought so much death in this place does not have the final word.
From the first moments of the destruction, brave men and women rushed in to where even Angels feared to tread. They risked their lives. They sacrificed their lives. They knew the love that is greater than any hatred, the same love that brought our Lord Jesus Christ to the Cross.
He ascended the the Cross on Golgotha to create a ladder to Heaven for all humanity. The brave souls who ascended the stairs of the Towers that day, created, by their love and by their sacrifice, numberless ladders to heaven. The Angels carried their precious souls to the heights, even as their bodies were lost among the ruination of that fateful day.
Today, the Cross of our Lord reminds each and every one of us that through death, He has conquered death. And the resurrection of the Saint Nicholas Church as this Shrine for the Nation is an affirmation of our Hope of the Resurrection and life Eternal through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
We bestow our sincere thanks and abundant blessings upon the Friends of Saint Nicholas, who have come together with our dear friends and spiritual sons, Archbishop Elpidophoros and Father Alexander Karloutsos, to make possible this resurrection of Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero.
We give thanks to all civil authorities, and especially former Governors Pataki and Cuomo, and our dear friends of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who made the path clear for this rebuilding effort that we celebrate today.
And we give thanks to all of you – the faithful of the Parish, and those from around the country and the globe who have given of themselves in prayer and fasting, in gifts both great and small, to make this dream of Saint Nicholas a reality.
May His precious Relic, his miracle-working hand extend over you all and grant you health, prosperity, and every spiritual blessing.
And May this resurrected Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, shine the light of Christ throughout this City of New York and around the world, as a beacon of Hope, of Faith, of Love – the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Lord, establish forever this holy house!
Τοῦτον τὸν Οἶκον στερέωσον, Κύριε!
With the prayers of our Ecumenical Patriarch, the Lord will indeed establish the Saint Nicholas National Shrine unto ages of ages.
With Love and Blessings in the Lord Jesus Christ,
Archbishop of America