A cross has been mounted on top of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine at Ground Zero to commemorate the progress made so far to rebuild the only church destroyed on 9/11.
A year after the start of the foundation work, the Saint Nicholas National Shrine located at the World Trade Center has been topped. The ceremony of topping out involved lifting a six-foot tall cross and then placing it on the church top. The action was a significant marker of progress on the construction of the Greek Orthodox Church whose original building was destroyed after the second World Trade Center tower toppled onto it on September 11, 2001.
For the spiritual-minded, the cross is more than just a religious artifact. It is indeed the first religious symbol to be seen in public at the World Trade Center, a place where officials have painfully contorted themselves so as to maintain an atmosphere of secularism. To give an example, the cross is mentioned as an “intersecting steel beam.” According to Archbishop Demetrios of the American Greek Orthodox Church, the cross represents the triumph of human disposition and spirit overcoming any sort of tragedy. He continued on to say that St. Nicholas will provide an additional message: the Saint will provide an opening towards the non-material reality of God's presence. The small chapel will tell the story that God is beyond what a person sees and feels. The supreme being is beyond what can be statistically verified.
Archbishop Demetrios joined Deacon Eleftherios Constantine and Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos in chanting “Feast of the Cross.” The Archbishop then sanctified this steel cross with water poured from a golden sprinkler or rantistirion. The small crowd around him was blessed as well. The cross is simply an interim measure. It will be substituted with a permanent one when the shrine will be open to the public during the initial months of 2018.
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The church has faced many obstacles in trying to rebuild after its destruction on 9/11. The principal reason for this is that its original location is now an underground garage. The new location is the freshly minted Liberty Park and this was finalized after a number of disagreements with the Port Authority on how the redevelopment will be done. The project, however, has surprisingly made a quick progress. The new church design was conceptualized by Santiago Calatrava of WTC Transportation Hub fame. The total cost of the project is $40 million. The church, on its own, has raised $38 million. It has private funding and scheduled to be completed within early 2018. It is assumed that by that time, the present cross on the top of the church will be substituted by a more permanent fixture.