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Remarks of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Special Opening of the Doors of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine

Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine
World Trade Center
New York, New York

November 2, 2021

* * *

Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America,
Most Reverend Metropolitans and Bishops,
Ἐξοχώτατε κ. Ὑπουργέ, ἐκπρόσωπε τῆς ἐντίμου Ἑλληνικῆς Κυβερνήσεως,
Esteemed Members of the Friends of Saint Nicholas,
Honorable Archons of the Ecumenical Throne,
Beloved Children in the Lord,

We stand here today, on this Hallowed Ground at the World Trade Center, where the world changed in a cruel and terrible moment twenty years ago.

We stand here, before the Church and National Shrine of Saint Nicholas, the Wonder-worker Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, whose historical See in Asia Minor is an integral part of the Holy Mother and Great Church of Christ: our Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

We stand here today, before a Holy Temple resurrected by faith and devotion, and extraordinary toil and labor.

We stand here today, as we celebrate the Thirtieth Anniversary of our Enthronement as the Successor to the Holy Apostle Andrew, the First-Called Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And we stand here today, celebrating the Patronal Feast of our spiritual son, His Eminence Elpidophoros, to whom we have entrusted the hopes for this Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne in this Great Nation, the Holy Archdiocese of America.

This Sacred Ground of the American experience is where the Orthodox Christian Faith will take the lead in manifesting to the world that good is mightier than evil, that there is life beyond death, and that love will always triumph over hatred.

We have come to this place to open Doors on Greek Orthodoxy to the American Consciousness of what the best in religion can be.

We have come to this place to open Doors on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, its history, tradition, and spiritual mission.

We have come to this place to open Doors on the story of the Immigrants who came to these shores in the shadow of Lady Liberty, searching for a new life and new opportunities.

We have come to this place to open Doors to promote inclusion, tolerance, and mutual understanding among all peoples of faith and good will.

We have come to this place to open Doors of Saint Nicholas the patron of all sojourners – from those who died on 9/11, to those who mourn their loss, to the pilgrims who will enter this National Shrine.

From the Lands of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, that established the Christian Faith throughout the Oikoumene,

From the Queen of Cities – Constantinople, today Istanbul, which preserves the authentic Traditions of Scripture, Monasticism, and is the guardian of the Holy Mountain Athos,

From the Domain of Saint Nicholas the Worker of miracles himself, we bring his physical and spiritual presence, in the Sacred Relic of his Holy Hand, which will find an eternal resting place within this National Shrine.

And we bring our paternal and Patriarchal Blessing to this Special Opening of the Doors, that inaugurates the countdown to the day when the Shrine will be fully open to all people, and for all people.

A short time ago, we blessed and raised Cross of Christ to be permanently affixed atop the dome.

This crowning of the Church by the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is our sign and symbol of victory, for Νικόλαος means: “Victory of the People, Νίκη τοῦ Λαοῦ.” The cowardly attack that wrought so much death in this place does not have the final word.

From the first moments of the destruction, brave men and women rushed in to where even Angels feared to tread. They risked their lives. They sacrificed their lives. They knew the love that is greater than any hatred, the same love that brought our Lord Jesus Christ to the Cross.

He ascended the Cross on Golgotha to create a ladder to Heaven for all humanity. The brave souls who ascended the stairs of the Towers that day, created, by their love and by their sacrifice, numberless ladders to heaven. The Angels carried their precious souls to the heights, even as their bodies were lost among the ruination of that fateful day.

Today, the Cross of our Lord reminds each and every one of us that through death, He has conquered death. And the resurrection of the Saint Nicholas Church as this Shrine for the Nation is an affirmation of our Hope of the Resurrection and life Eternal through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

We bestow our sincere thanks and abundant blessings upon the Friends of Saint Nicholas, who have come together with our dear friends and spiritual sons, Archbishop Elpidophoros and Father Alexander Karloutsos, to make possible this resurrection of Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero.

We give thanks to all civil authorities, and especially former Governors Pataki and Cuomo, and our dear friends of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who made the path clear for this rebuilding effort that we celebrate today.

And we give thanks to all of you – the faithful of the Parish, and those from around the country and the globe who have given of themselves in prayer and fasting, in gifts both great and small, to make this dream of Saint Nicholas a reality.

May His precious Relic, his miracle-working hand extend over you all and grant you health, prosperity, and every spiritual blessing.

And May this resurrected Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, eternally shine the light of Christ throughout this City of New York and around the world, as a beacon of Faith, of Hope, of Love – the salvific Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Lord, establish forever this holy house!

Τοῦτον τὸν Οἶκον στερέωσον, Κύριε!

Ἀμήν!

Ἀγαπητοί παρόντες,

ζοῦμε σήμερα μιά ἱστορική ἡμέρα ὡς Ἐκκλησία καί ὡς Ὁμογένεια τῶν Ἡνωμένων Πολιτειῶν τῆς Ἀμερικῆς τελώντας τά θυρανοίξια τοῦ Ἱεροῦ Ναοῦ - Ἐθνικοῦ Προσκυνήματος τοῦ Ἁγίου Νικολάου. Συγχαίρουμε καί εὐχαριστοῦμε ὅλους ἐκείνους πού συνέβαλαν καί ἐκοπίασαν γιά νά γίνῃ τό ὄνειρο πραγματικότητα-νά μετατραποῦν τά ἔργα τοῦ σκότους καί τοῦ φανατισμοῦ σέ ἔργα φωτός, ἀγάπης, ἐλπίδος, προοπτικῆς. Πιστεύουμε στόν Κύριο, ὁ ὁποῖος ποιεῖ τά πάντα καινά, κανούργια, ἐλπιδοφόρα. Ἐπικαλούμεθα τήν χάρι καί τήν εὐλογία Του ἐπί πάντας ὑμᾶς τούς ἑορταστικῶς συγκεντρωθέντας καί ἐπί τούς μελλοντικούς προσκυνητάς τοῦ Ἁγίου Νικολάου.

Δόξα τῷ Θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκα!