Greek Orthodox church lost in Sept. 11 attacks marks 90th year
The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was set to mark its 90th year Wednesday with its structure gone but its spirit intact.
The landmark church in Manhattan's financial district was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The congregation and city authorities are still cementing a plan to rebuild.
Members plan to mark the anniversary Ã¢â‚¬â€ and the day devoted to the church's namesake saint Ã¢â‚¬â€ by creating a "temporary church" at one of ground zero's gates.
Given the church's history, it also will be an occasion to remember the terrorist attacks. Some victims' relatives were expected at the service, and visitors were invited to view artifacts recovered from ground zero.
Built in 1916, the tiny church stood at the southern edge of what is now ground zero. It was traditionally a refuge for Greek sailors who believed that St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, would keep their ships from sinking.
St. Nicholas Ã¢â‚¬â€ commonly known as Santa Claus Ã¢â‚¬â€ was born in the third century to a wealthy family in Patara, a village in what is now Turkey. He became a bishop and lavished his inheritance on the needy, especially children.
The church has served generations of Greek-American families and some of the world's rich and famous, including shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and actor Telly Savalas.
The Orthodox community worldwide has pledged millions of dollars to rebuild the church, which New York Governor George Pataki promised would rise on or close to the same spot.
The congregation's 80 families have worshipped elsewhere while awaiting the rebuilding.