New York, NY - St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, demolished in the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, will receive $500, 000 from the town of Bari, Italy. The surprise announcement was made on CNN television by Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero during a press conference with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Sept. 26th.
In expressing Italys commitment to the American people and sharing their sadness, he said, I have brought just a small gesture of solidarity, but I believe it is a significant one. I just received a letter from the mayor of Bari, who announced that he has created a small fund of $500,000 in order to participate in the reconstruction of the church of Saint Nicholas.
Immediately on hearing of the generous offer, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios contacted the Italian Consulate, expressing his appreciation and gratitude to the City of Bari, and requesting a meeting with Mr. Ruggiero to personally express his appreciation. Unfortunately, the Foreign Minister was scheduled to leave in a few hours for Italy and the meeting was not possible. Consul General Giorgio Radicate, however, indicated that perhaps sometime in the future a delegation would come from Bari to personally make the presentation.
St. Nicholas is the Patron Saint of Bari, and every year the city sponsors a major festival in celebration of his Feast Day, December 6th. Mr. Radicate suggested that the contribution of $500,000 might come from funds raised through the years from the annual festival.
The city of Bari, Italy has particular attachment and love for St. Nicholas because of the holy relics of the saint that were enshrined on May 9, 1087 in a magnificent basilica erected there in his honor.
In a gracious ecumenical gesture, the Roman Catholic Church offered some of the above relics of St. Nicholas to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America in 1972, where they repose in honored glory. They are also in the Chapel of St. Nicholas in the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity NYC, the Church of the Archangel, Stamford, CT, St. Nicholas Church, Flushing, NY and St. Nicholas Church, West Babylon, NY. Relics of St. Nicholas were also kept in the Church of St. Nicholas demolished on September 11.