St. Nicholas Church inaugurated by Ecumenical Patriarch at Ground Zero

The inauguration of the reconstructed Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was buried under the collapsed Twin Towers on 9/11, took part on Tuesday in New York City with a blessing led by Ecumenical Patriarch Barthlomew at Ground Zero.

Accompanied by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Bartholomew was greeted by an honorary guard of Greek-Americans who serve in New York’s coast guard and police. The ceremony was also attended by distinguished members of the Greek-American community, US politicians, and relatives of the victims of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

In the moving ceremony at the site of Ground Zero, the Patriarch blessed religious objects that were salvaged from the ruined original church.

The patriarchal mission also brought a relic of St. Nicholas from Mount Athos in Greece, which was placed by the Patriarch in the center of the high altar inside the church. In addition, Bartholomew took off the vestments he was wearing, signed them and donated them to the church.

St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine, named after the patron saint of sailors, began services in 1922 and was an important symbolic point of reference for Greek migrants, who in the early 20th century arrived at Ellis Island, the United States’ migrant reception center.

The new church was designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava and is situated next to the Liberty Park, near the 9/11 monument and museum. Its renovation cost 85 million doillars, which came mostly from donations.

Apart from being an central Greek Orthodox church in the city of New York, St. Nicholas is the only religious temple near One World Trade Center and will be open to people of all religions and sects. Its construction and features make it the second church after the Washington National Cathedral that will function as a national shrine in the United States.

St. Nicholas church will open for services next week.