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St. Nicolas Church will reopen as a national shrine to those lost on 9/11 for 20th anniversary


A Greek Orthodox church in the shadow of the Twin Towers that was destroyed during the September 11, 2001 terror attacks will be revived as national shrine at a new location near One World Trade Center and was lit up for the first time on the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. 

The St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center was lit from within for the first time on Friday night at 8pm and will continue to shine every night going forward. 

The original 155 Cedar Street location of St. Nicholas Church was steps away from the Twin Towers and completely devastated on September 11, 2001. It was the only house of worship destroyed on that tragic day. 

The 80-year-old location was first purchased by Greek immigrants in 1892 as a community home and converted to a church in 1916. It became a staple of the community and was often among one of the first stops immigrants made when they came to the country. 

The St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center was lit from within for the first time on Friday night at 8pm and will continue to shine every night going forward 

The original 155 Cedar Street location of St. Nicholas Church was steps away from the Twin Towers and completely devastated on September 11, 2001. It was the only house of worship destroyed on that tragic day. It has since been rebuilt and was lit for the first time on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The lighting comes from within panels of marble, quarried from the same vein used for the ancient Greek Parthenon

 The original 155 Cedar Street location of St. Nicholas Church was steps away from the Twin Towers and completely devastated on September 11, 2001. It was the only house of worship destroyed on that tragic day. It has since been rebuilt and was lit for the first time on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The lighting comes from within panels of marble, quarried from the same vein used for the ancient Greek Parthenon

The church (pictured bottom right) has been relocated down the block to Ground Zero (pictured left) and will expand beyond a church to serve as The St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center

The church (pictured bottom right) has been relocated down the block to Ground Zero (pictured left) and will expand beyond a church to serve as The St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church will be lit up from within for the first time on Friday night at 8pm and will continue to shine every night going forward to honor the lives lost during the 9/11 attacks (Pictured: the interior of the St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine is still under construction seen on September 10)

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church will be lit up from within for the first time on Friday night at 8pm and will continue to shine every night going forward to honor the lives lost during the 9/11 attacks (Pictured: the interior of the St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine is still under construction seen on September 10)

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was the only house of worship destroyed during the 9/11 attacks (Pictured: The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine nearing completion of the exterior on September 10 ahead of the reopening)

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was the only house of worship destroyed during the 9/11 attacks (Pictured: The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine nearing completion of the exterior on September 10 ahead of the reopening)

The humble building was first purchased by Greek immigrants in 1892 as a community home and converted to a church in 1916 (Pictured: the original St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in 1981)

The humble building was first purchased by Greek immigrants in 1892 as a community home and converted to a church in 1916 (Pictured: the original St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in 1981)

 Very few relics of the historic site survived the devastation.  

Vicar General Father Alexander Karloutsos said in an interview with CBS that he hopes this new building will become another pillar of the community. He wants the church to offer reflection and meditation to those of all faiths. 

‘The darkness of that day meant that they extinguished 3,000 lives that no longer shine. That no longer bring love and warmth to those around them and so we believe that this shrine will be their light. Will be able to carry their lives forward.

‘We are honoring them on sacred ground because 9/11, for those of us who are Americans, for those of us who believe in freedom and democracy, they are heros.  They’re victims of the hard way of life. The American way of life. New York Strong.’ 

The St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center will reopen Friday ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks (Pictured: the view of where St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church stood at before it was demolished during the 9/11 attacks seen on September 10)

The St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center will reopen Friday ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks (Pictured: the view of where St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church stood at before it was demolished during the 9/11 attacks seen on September 10)

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church has moved down the block from it's original location at 155 Cedar Street to 130 Liberty Street (Pictured: The construction of the Church and National Shrine is now proceeding briskly after years of delays seen on September 10)

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church has moved down the block from it’s original location at 155 Cedar Street to 130 Liberty Street (Pictured: The construction of the Church and National Shrine is now proceeding briskly after years of delays seen on September 10)

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church will continue to serve as a parish but will now also host events and exhibitions to commensurate the tragedy of the lives lost on September 1, 2001 (Pictured: view of the dome at the top of the new building from inside the church seen on September 10)

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church will continue to serve as a parish but will now also host events and exhibitions to commensurate the tragedy of the lives lost on September 1, 2001 (Pictured: view of the dome at the top of the new building from inside the church seen on September 10)

The rebuilding is funded through 'The Friends of St. Nicholas,' an independent non-profit that has raised $95 million (Pictured: a worker guides a marble roof panel into place at the top of the dome on September 8)

The rebuilding is funded through ‘The Friends of St. Nicholas,’ an independent non-profit that has raised $95 million (Pictured: a worker guides a marble roof panel into place at the top of the dome on September 8)

The new location at 130 Liberty street is directly across the street from the 9/11 Memorial South Pool and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero (Pictured: a crane lifts sections of marble onto the dome of the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine on August 27)

The new location at 130 Liberty street is directly across the street from the 9/11 Memorial South Pool and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero (Pictured: a crane lifts sections of marble onto the dome of the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine on August 27)

The new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine will honor the 2,977 people that were killed on September 11, 2001 (Pictured: construction continues of the exterior of the new Church and National Shrine seen on August 17)

The new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine will honor the 2,977 people that were killed on September 11, 2001 (Pictured: construction continues of the exterior of the new Church and National Shrine seen on August 17)

Vicar General Father Alexander Karloutsos (pictured) said he wants the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and Shrine to honor the 3,000 lives 'that no longer bring love and warmth to those around them and so we believe that this shrine will be their light'

Vicar General Father Alexander Karloutsos (pictured) said he wants the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and Shrine to honor the 3,000 lives ‘that no longer bring love and warmth to those around them and so we believe that this shrine will be their light’ 

Father Alexander said that the church looks forward to the reopening ‘with great pain but also with great hope’ and insisted that ‘no one is a stranger.’ 

The Greek Orthodox church will continue to function as a parish but will also be a National Shrine and allow visitors to light a candle for the lives lost on September 11.  The new St. Nicholas aims to ‘inspire millions for generations to come,’ according to its website

St. Nicholas will host remembrance programs for family members of those who lost their lives, inter-religious educational programs, cultural events, and exhibitions to commensurate the tragedy that occurred at the site. 

Although it will continue to serve as a Greek Orthodox Church, the space is intended to be all inclusive to honor ‘the American democratic and religious ideal that the practice of one’s own beliefs in no way hinders the beliefs of another.’ 

 The rebuilding of the church is funded through ‘The Friends of St. Nicholas,’ an independent non-profit that has raised $95 million. 

The church’s new location at 130 Liberty street is across the street from the 9/11 Memorial South Pool and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The interior of the building has not been finished. The new building is expected to be full opened by Easter. 

When looking to rebuild, the church was given two options. They could stay at the original address or relocate to Ground Zero. 

‘We felt that 130 Liberty would be closer to the [9/11] memorial, it would allow our church to face east rather than north — and that is a tradition with the Orthodox Church that the church must always face east in anticipation of another resurrection,’ Karloutsos said. 

The house of worship used to be one of the first spots that immigrants would make when reaching the United States (Pictured: the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in a parking lot in New York's financial district in the mid 1990s)

The house of worship used to be one of the first spots that immigrants would make when reaching the United States (Pictured: the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in a parking lot in New York’s financial district in the mid 1990s)

Father Alexander said the church wants to offer reflection and meditation to those of all faiths (Pictured: the chapel of the former St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church)

Father Alexander said the church wants to offer reflection and meditation to those of all faiths (Pictured: the chapel of the former St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church)

Very few relics were found at the historic site after the 9/11 attacks (Pictured: candles and a small bell recovered from the original St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church are preserved at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York seen on August 18)

Very few relics were found at the historic site after the 9/11 attacks (Pictured: candles and a small bell recovered from the original St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church are preserved at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York seen on August 18)

The church attempted to recover artifacts from the historic site but few survived the devastation (Pictured: a charred Bible recovered from the original St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church preserved at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York seen on August 18)

The church attempted to recover artifacts from the historic site but few survived the devastation (Pictured: a charred Bible recovered from the original St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church preserved at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York seen on August 18) 

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine is expected to be fully open by Easter of 2022 (Pictured: an icon of St. Nicholas hangs in the unfinished interior of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine on July 22)

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine is expected to be fully open by Easter of 2022 (Pictured: an icon of St. Nicholas hangs in the unfinished interior of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine on July 22)

The church chose to move locations because they 'felt that 130 Liberty would be closer to the [9/11] memorial,' Alexander said (Pictured: Personal notes, prayers and names are written on the incomplete walls of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine July 22)

The church chose to move locations because they ‘felt that 130 Liberty would be closer to the [9/11] memorial,’ Alexander said (Pictured: Personal notes, prayers and names are written on the incomplete walls of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine July 22)

‘We’re Americans, so we wanted to take this church — which was small, little church — and make it a shrine for all the world to be able to find comfort in,’ he said. 

‘This is going to be a witness to the spirit of St. Nicholas, the spirit of Santa Claus,’ Karloutsos continued, envoking the church’s namesake. ‘St. Nicholas is the one that embraces and loves and affirms humanity and life itself.’

On September 11, 2001, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airlines in a coordinated attack on the U.S., killing 2,977 people in what has remained the deadliest foreign attack on U.S. soil. 

Two decades later, 1,106 victims remain unidentified, at least 10,000 people have been diagnosed with a range of cancers related to the attacks, and 2,000 have reportedly died from related illnesses. 

President Joe Biden will attend memorial ceremonies in New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the pentagon on Saturday.  



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