After more than a decade, the dome of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at Ground Zero lit up for the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Following a brief ceremony officiated by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the long-awaited church shone brightly below the 9/11 Tribute in Light on Friday evening in memory of the nearly 3,000 lives lost.
Local clergymembers, politicians, stakeholders, family members of the fallen and other public figures attended the lighting during which onlookers held candles and sang the “Memory eternal” Orthodox hymn.
“The rebirth of this Church, as a Shrine for the Nation, is nothing less than a miracle of God,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said during the ceremony. “Through the mighty prayers of Saint Nicholas, we have arrived at this evening of prayer and remembrance, to send out a message of hope into the world.”
Founded by Greek immigrants in 1916, the original church was the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11. The 80-year-old house of worship has been rebuilt near One World Trade Center and, after 20 years of financial scandals and bureaucratic red tape, is poised to open by spring 2022.
The new St. Nicholas church was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava — the same creative mind behind the nearby Oculus. Visual tributes to fallen first responders and other 9/11-related imagery will appear in the designs.
The church will continue to serve the Greek Orthodox community while also offering a separate non-denominational space for people of all faiths to pray and reflect.
“This place belongs to all Americans, no matter what is their faith or denomination,” the archbishop said. “They can come here and pray for all Americans that were lost here.”
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