Located in the heart of New York City, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church is officially the Saint Nick and the National Shrine. It is a major landmark and has a long history.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
During the attacks of September 11, 2001, Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was destroyed. This renowned structure was one of the first stops for Greek immigrants who arrived in New York from Ellis Island. The church was largely reduced to ruins after the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
The Church was reconstructed on land owned by the Port Authority. A non-denominational bereavement center will be located on the property.
The exterior of the building is made of stone curtain-wall system that glows at night. Its dome is supported by four towers and has 40 windows.
Santiago Calatrava, a renowned architect, designer and sculptor, designed the building. He also designed the Oculus transportation hub at the World Trade Center. The marble for the building is being shipped to Greece, Germany, and Austria.
Work will begin in August 2020 and will be completed in time for Orthodox Holy Week in April 2022. Inside, the shrine will be a domed sacred space with 1,000 LED lights. There will be seven icons that depict the life of Saint Nicholas. The icons will be anointed and sealed within the altar table.
New iconography from a monastery on Mt. Athos
Thousands of monks have spent over one thousand years on the rocky peninsula of Mount Athos. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the monastic community has been attracting new, university-educated visitors. The monks have a rich history of spiritual achievement. In recent decades, the community has grown to 2,000 members.
In a time of increased interest in Greece and Orthodoxy, monks at Mount Athos are responding. They have created a unique collection of priceless objects and are painting icons. Their works are gaining attention and are being exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.
The monks’ treasures are displayed at the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Salonika. They include dishes, vestments and embroideries that were used by the monks. However, the museum does not have a full collection. It is hoped that new funds will be able to complete the project.
The Athos Art Archives was set up in Karyes, the capital of Mount Athos, to preserve paper icons. This project has allowed the monks to continue their artistic tradition and to preserve their trove of priceless artwork.
Earlier this month, a historic consecration ceremony was held to mark the re-building of the Greek Orthodox church at Ground Zero. The ceremony drew a crowd of over 1,300 participants including representatives from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, local clergy and faithful, and representatives of Friends of Saint Nicholas.
The ceremony began with the lighting of the Vigil Lamp, a symbol of the Church of Christ. The bishop then makes a sign of the cross when entering the Church. Then, he begins a prayer service by calling upon the Holy Spirit, referring to the power of God.
Following the prayer, the metropolitan prepares to anoint the Holy Altar Table. Then, he invites the faithful to offer oil in the Vigil Lamp as a gift to the Church.
The Metropolitan then proclaims: Blessed is the kingdom of the Son, and the kingdom of the Father. Then, he reads the prayer of the Consecration. Then, he begins the Divine Liturgy.
The Holy Relics of Saint Nicholas are then placed into the altar table. The doors of the church are sealed.
During the construction of the World Trade Center, one of the last pieces of the original site was the Greek Orthodox church. The building was about 35 feet tall and 22 feet wide.
After the attacks on September 11, 2001, the church was destroyed. The Port Authority claimed the church was too expensive and might delay the construction of the new World Trade Center. Ultimately, the Church was reconstructed and consecrated by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit.
After years of delays, the Greek Orthodox Church is finally rebuilding on the site. The new church will be located on a small elevated park near the memorial plaza. It will also have a space for prayer, meditation, and reflection.
The church was designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. It will be the first Greek Orthodox church built in lower Manhattan. The building is designed to look down onto the memorial plaza. It will feature a Byzantine style dome.