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St. Nicholas Ground Zero: Out of the Ashes, A New Symbol of Faith

We Greek Orthodox have taken our time to make our presence felt in the Big Apple, content with our modest Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, some distance from the city's nerve centers on 74th St., between Second and First Avenues. Over the years, many Greek-American leaders have talked about buying or building a cathedral on Park or Fifth Avenues, now that we have made so much progress in America and achieved the second highest per capita income of any ethnic group. But the talk never went anywhere.

Now a terrible national tragedy has given us the opportunity to create a great shrine for our faith, and a spiritual memorial to all those who perished on 9/11.

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. Continue reading this story...


A National Shrine for Everyone

On September 11, 2001, the thousands who senselessly perished in the terrorist attacks of that day were only the first and most grievous losses to our Nation. In the confused and stormy dark days that followed, even as we all gained some small measure of comfort from the extraordinary courage of our Fire and Police heroes, our national sense of security, safety, and even our some sense of identity in the wider world was deeply and perhaps forever shattered. In those days when clergy ventured to Ground Zero to offer prayer and solace to the survivors and rescue workers, the vanished Saint Nicholas Church was already beginning to speak up. There began in the hearts and minds of those sifting through the debris an utterance crying from that sacred ground unto the Lord on behalf of the blood of many brothers and sisters (cf. Genesis 4:10). And that cry became a story and a history – a story of those who were slain that fateful day, and a history yet to be written of the immigrant communities of lower Manhattan and their dream of America. Continue reading this story...


Our American Parthenon

In her remarkable 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:

"[The Athenians] wanted to leave their own children something more than a citadel in ruins, a barren ground zero that fossilized the bitter memories of defeat. It was time to forge a new narrative for the city, one of Athenian triumph and supremacy, a visual tribute to its miraculous rise from the ashes." Continue reading this story...


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. Continue reading this story...


A Tale of Three Churches: Part 2

Nearly eighteen hundred years ago, a famous man sardonically asked: "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" Orthodox Christians 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. Part 1 dealt with the first two of the three Churches in our tale; now to include that third House of the Lord, and to behold how all three are intertwined in the work of salvation and history. Continue reading this story...


The City Set On A Hill Cannot Be Hidden

In a New York Times article (November 20, 2013), David Dunlap wrote about the elevated park above Liberty Street in the rebuilt World Trade Center site, "that will command a panoramic view of the National September 11 Memorial." This "Liberty Park" will create "…a landscaped forecourt for the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church; to provide a gathering space for as many as 750 people at a time; to allow visitors to contemplate the whole memorial in a single sweeping glance from treetop level…."

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). Continue reading this story...