The first thing police found at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was a piece of a wing and landing gear from American Flight 11.
Then the World Trade Center's north tower fell on the humble, white-washed walls of the tiny sanctuary across the street. It took time for work crews to find much of anything after that.
Eventually they found a paper icon of St. Dionysios of Zakynthos, but never found its frame or silver cover. They found an embroidered velvet cloth, but not the Bible it covered. They found a bell clapper, but not the bell. They found a silver hand in prayer, a wooden icon of a healing fountain, fragments of the marble altar, a twisted piece of a candelabrum and beeswax candles that survived the hellfire from above...
"I told them about the relics of St. Nicholas and St. Katherine and St. Sava," said Romas, priest at St. Nicholas for almost two decades and a chanter for years before that. "I told them about the safe on the top floor. I described everything in detail. But our little church was gone. There were no windows, no doors, no walls -- nothing."
The priest paused, trying to find English words for his emotions..."But this we do know -- we will rebuild our church."
Terry Mattingly teaches at Palm Beach Atlantic University and is senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. He writes this weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service.
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