A ceremonial rebirth for Lower Manhattan Orthodox church lost in the 9/11 attacks

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Renderings of St. Nicholas National Shrine. Greek Orthodox. (All photos courtesy of the Archdiocese of America)

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center destroyed the Twin Towers and other buildings that were part of the complex. But few remember that a house of worship near Ground Zero was also reduced to rubble in the tragedy.

While the World Trade Center was rebuilt, it’s taken decades for the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church to rise from the ashes of 9/11. Monday will mark a key milestone in the nearly two-decade effort to restore what the congregation lost.

Dennis Meheih, Chairman of the Friends of St. Nicholas, has joined the movement to restore the church in an innovative fashion.

Once described as Father Alex Karloutsos (Father Alex) as, “a simple church, with thousands [of daily worshippers], destroyed,” after nearly 2 years of decades of stalled funding and state and Port Authority squabbling, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church is finally coming back to life. And it is resplendent.

Father Alex remarked that the 2001 terror attacks have marked this site as an area appropriate for a shrine to lives left.

As such, believers of all denominations would come to the site to leave mementos or even search for the missing.

One recalls the horror of pasted “MISSING” signs that decorated the area after the towers fell and people scrambled for their loved ones.

With that terrible collapse of the twin towers now almost 20 years ago, the church needs the help of the community more than ever.

After construction halted completely in 2017, stunning renderings have been released of the church that will occupy that sadly fallen space.

Bringing together all faiths, the new church will feature a non-denominational room where those of any religion can sit in silent prayer.

Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this reconstruction is in a tale that Father Alex told amNewYork Metro.

From the renderings, it is clear that the church will act as a downtown beacon for prayer. Father Alex added that responsible for this light is the construction of the church that will use extremely thin strips of marble drawn from using microfibers of marble from an original location in the Pantheon in Greece.

Glowing “from the inside out,” all faiths will welcome the addition of this revitalized location to a downtown ravaged by terror in 2001 and nestled amongst the skyscrapers that remain.

Monday’s ceremony— presided over by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Archbishop Elpidophoros, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America—will mark a seminal moment for the church.

During this ceremony, a crane will lower the first part of the skylight on to the once humble church’s dome—a long awaited beacon for all to see.