Saint Nicholas National Shrine to be Built Following Ground Blessing Ceremony

George Tsandikos signs foundation wall of Saint Nicholas National Shrine on behalf of Leadership 100.

A Ground Blessing ceremony for the Saint Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center took place on October 18, 2014 at its site on Liberty Street, overlooking the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. As the only house of worship destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the church is set to be rebuilt as a shrine by the end of 2016. Some 2,500 persons were in attendance.

The grounds for the National Shrine, designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, were blessed in an “Agiasmos” (Greek for sanctification) ceremony led by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America.

The ceremony, which consisted of prayers, Scriptural readings, hymns in honor of Saint Nicholas and the Blessing of the Water (drawn from the memorial fountains by family members of the victims who perished during the tragic event of 9/11), was based on the Laying of a Cornerstone for a Church.

For the Saint Nicholas National Shrine, cairns (a memorial collection of stones) were built up in imitation of the cairn of Gilgal that the Prophet Joshua fashioned to commemorate the crossing over of the Israelites into the Promised Land (Joshua, Ch. 4).

Two cairns were constructed in memory of the Twin Towers with the stones placed by supporting organizations and members of the Greek Orthodox American Community, including George S. Tsandikos, Chairman, representing Leadership 100 and its members, as well as federal, state and local political figures. The cairns will eventually be installed permanently at the entrance to the church.

The ceremony also included commentaries by political and religious figures and Calatrava, including a message from His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, read by His Eminence, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, and remarks by former New York Governor George Pataki and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins also attended.

Once built, Saint Nicholas National Shrine will include a non-denominational bereavement center welcoming all those seeking comfort and prayer and a place of solace.


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