Catholic believers pray for the intercession of the saints in heaven so that they may pray for us on our behalf. Saints are able to intercede on our behalf and offer up to God the prayers of those on Earth. Patron saints are recognized as the heavenly advocates and special intercessors for many things, even states. If you want to ask for the special intercession on behalf of your state, do you know who to pray to?
With the recognition of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it is only fitting to explore the patron saint of New York City—Saint Nicholas. Many people turned to their faith to endure that time in our nation, and collectively prayed for healing and understanding.
St. Nicholas was the patron saint of children, sailors and merchants. From 1916 until September 11, 2001, one of the Greek Orthodox churches named for St. Nicholas sat in the shadow of the World Trade Center on Cedar St.
During construction of the World Trade Center in the 1960s, the little church was an ever-present spiritual center, open to all. There are generations of New Yorkers who recall stopping at the church to light a candle, say a prayer or just sit quietly, but everything changed on 9/11. The church was completely destroyed in the collapse of the Two World Trade Center tower during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Thankfully, no one was in the church when it was destroyed.
To date, the church has not been rebuilt, although efforts are still continuing. Even as there were challenges to begin construction, in July of 2010, remains of an 18th-century ship were excavated on the very location of the former St. Nicholas Church. St. Nicholas is known throughout the world as the patron saint of those who sail the sea, and many took this as a sign that the church should be rebuilt.
Post 9/11, people continue to look to their faith and saints for comfort. St. Nicholas was recognized as a ‘confessor’—one who confessed Christ publicly in times of persecution, remaining faithful despite imprisonment, torture or exile. He was an example of a saint who was honored for the witness of his life. St. Nicholas was no doubt a witness to God’s work through carrying out God’s will and brings comfort in times of tragedy.
For more information on rebuilding the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City, visit www.stnicholaswtc.org.