On Saturday, hundreds of New York City’s Greek Orthodox Christians attended a blessing for a new church site near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, to replace St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, destroyed in the 9/11 terror attacks. In remarks at the site, Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, the First Hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOAA), recalled his dismay when, on 12 September 2001, he and other clergy visited the spot where St Nicholas church stood since the early 20th Century. The collapse of the Twin Towers crushed the tiny structure, making it the only church destroyed in the attack. Archbishop Demetrios said, “We stood there frozen, paralysed. There was a big hole instead of a church. It left a terrible kind of impression”.
More than 13 years later, work started on a larger 38 million USD (1.55 billion Roubles. 233 million Renminbi. 2.34 billion INR. 42.9 million CAD. 43.5 million AUD. 29.8 million Euros. 23.6 million UK Pounds) domed church designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava intended to serve both as a new home for the Greek Orthodox parish and as a national non-denominational shrine for Ground Zero visitors. The dome made of glass and white marble will be backlit from within so that it glows at night. Archbishop Demetrios said, “It’ll be a refuge for people in need of spiritual comfort regardless of their specific beliefs, or unbeliefs. Above all, this resurrected St Nicholas church will be a monument declaring the victory of good over evil, of love over hatred”. Those in attendance included Calatrava, US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), former NY State Governor George Pataki, former NYC Mayor David Dinkins, and various other New York and New Jersey politicians. Pataki, who was governor at the time of the attack, said the church was an important addition to the memorials and skyscrapers that rose in recent years at the WTC noting, “We had remembrance, we had commerce, but without St Nicholas, we didn’t have faith”.
Greek immigrants founded the original church in 1916 and began services at its 1,200-square-foot (112 square metres) site on Cedar Street in 1922. After its destruction, a legal dispute between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the GOAA over the original site delayed rebuilding. In 2011, the parties struck a deal in which the church agreed to exchange land on Cedar Street for the rights to another parcel on Liberty Street, just south of the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Calatrava also conceived the Port Authority 4 billion USD (163 billion Roubles. 24.5 billion Renminbi. 246 billion INR. 4.51 billion CAD. 4.57 billion AUD. 3.14 billion Euros. 2.5 billion UK Pounds) WTC transportation hub. The church chose him for the project after he submitted a plan that drew inspiration from two New Roman shrines in Constantinople (now Istanbul)… Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora. Church officials said that donations from around the world funded construction, including 260,000 USD (10.6 billion Roubles. 1.6 million Renminbi. 16 million INR. 293,000 CAD. 297,000 AUD. 204,000 Euros. 162,000 UK Pounds) from the Greek government. They expect the shrine to open within the next two years.
18 October 2014