As far as resurrection symbols go, few can top the cross and the symbolism of a cross being raised on a roof of a building still under construction was not lost to those present. Of course, a church is not an ordinary building, a Greek orthodox church even less so, not to mention that this is the temple that was destroyed 15 years ago, during the greatest and most shocking terrorist attack to ever happen in the United States.
The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was the only religious building left in ruins after the two terrorist planes crashed into the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001, and its rebuilding (which started in 2014) cements its status as a National Shrine. It is telling that, in his address to Athens, a couple of weeks ago, President Obama mentioned the church as a symbol of reselience: “If anyone seeks an example of our shared spirit, our resilience, they need look no further than New York City, near Ground Zero, where the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas, once in ruins, is now rising again,” he said.
Raising the cross on the roof is, of course part of the traditional “topping out” ceremony, marking the highest structural element to be placed during a project. The temporary cross that was raised on the building was blessed by Archbishop Demetrios of America, who used a combination of holy water and water from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Pools.
“We look around today we see the triumph of human spirit and human mind that can overcome any tragedy”, said the Archbishop. “Saint Nicholas will offer us the presence of God in our lives and in our city. Here, at this spot, we raise the Cross, which is a symbol of sacrifice and victory, and we offer prayers for the continued construction process.”
Standing as a symbol of hope for believers and passers-by, the temporary cross will be replaced with a permanent one when the building work to replace the church is complete.