Construction is in the final stages at Ground Zero in New York City where the only house of worship destroyed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 will rise again.
Plans are under way for the official Thyranixia, or door opening ceremony of the Greek Orthodox Church, which will also serve as a National Shrine of the Archdiocese and a place for people of all backgrounds to visit, light a candle and pray.
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, who has made the re-building of St. Nicholas one of his priorities, announced following a divine liturgy at St. Nicholas in Flushing, New York, that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, will travel from Turkey to officiate at the ceremony, which is slated to take place on November 2.
The news was also reported in the Tribeca Citizen, a local publication covering news of lower Manhattan, which quoted a statement from Dennis Mehiel, Chairman of Friends of St. Nicholas, the organization that is responsible for raising the remaining funds to rebuild the church.
The completion of the monumental structure, designed by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is almost two decades in the making, following years of wrangling between the Archdiocese and various government entities.
A financial scandal derailed construction in 2017 involving misappropriated funds and massive over-spending blamed on the administration of the previous Archbishop and his team, that ultimately led to his forced retirement.
A new organization called Friends of St. Nicholas was formed shortly after the arrival of Archbishop Elpidophoros by a group of local and national stakeholders who quickly gathered the necessary funds– more than $40 million– to resume building of the church.
Currently, marble walls are being installed around the massive structure.
The marble used to create the outer walls comes from the same vein of Pentelic marble that was used to build the Parthenon temple in Athens two and a half thousand years ago. It was gifted by the Greek government and made a nearly 7,000 mile journey to its installation in Lower Manhattan in New York City.
The building has been designed to shine, with interior lighting illuminating the marble and creating a signature glow.
“We begin in Attica, where the marble has been quarried from the very same vein as the Parthenon marble, which is white with a faint tint of yellow, making it shine with a golden hue under sunlight,” the Archbishop explained, calling it “An extraordinary gift of the Hellenic Republic, which reserves the Pentelic marble only for the reconstruction efforts on the Acropolis.”
The marble then traveled to Austria, for its fabrication into the the panels that will adorn the exterior of the building and give it that unique glow. From Austria, the panels went to Minnesota, to be assembled into their unique configuration with glass. And from Minnesota, to New York City and the site of Saint Nicholas– a journey of over 6,700 miles.
“Unlike the Parthenon, Saint Nicholas will not be a mountain of marble, but rather a monument of memory. Its glow will be a candle lit to dispel the hatred and inhumanity that was behind 9/11, and to remind the world that the Light of Christ, the Light of the Resurrection shines on, overcoming all darkness,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros in the last newsletter mailing to donors.
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