Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, gave his formal blessing on Tuesday at the long-awaited St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at Ground Zero.
Bartholomew officiated the “Thyranoixia,” or “opening of the doors ceremony,” alongside Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and other clergymen in front of the church while offering remarks.
“We stand here today, before a holy temple resurrected by faith and devotion, and extraordinary toil and labor,” Bartholomew said. “May this resurrected Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, eternally shine the light of Christ throughout this City of New York and around the world, as a beacon of Faith, of Hope, of Love – the salvific Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Bartholomew and other dignitaries participated in a quiet procession and proceeded to bless various surviving items from the original church including a contorted bell and a torn icon of the Virgin Mary.
The patriarch blessed the shrine’s doors with holy water and tapped them with his staff before entering. He and other dignitaries including Archbishop Elpidohoros signed a book of Gospels to be used for worship at the church. Bartholomew also presented a hand of St. Nicholas as a gifted relic.
“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,” the patriarch said.
Click here to read Bartholomew’s full remarks from the ceremony.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America uploaded a video of the full ceremony on YouTube.
Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the new church remains under construction and is scheduled to open in 2022. The original small church was destroyed during the September 11 attacks after functioning for decades as the house of worship for the Greek immigrant community in Lower Manhattan
Tuesday’s ceremony marked the 30th anniversary of Bartholomew’s enthronement as patriarch, the longest tenure of any patriarch on record.
The patriarch arrived in the United States on October 23 and spent the following night in a Washington D.C. hospital after feeling “unwell,” church officials said. He resumed activities the next day, including a visit with President Joe Biden at the White House.
Featured image: Dimitrios Panagos/Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
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