Visit to St. Nicholas Shrine

AP Photo/Seth Wenig *

Last week, the St Nicholas Shrine finally opened.  One man who attended, sent us the following and asked us to publish it.  We do so without comment.

Visit To St. Nicholas Shrine

My family & I traveled to New York, St. Nicholas Day for opening of the long awaited ground zero shrine – the reincarnated & rebuilt St. Nicholas church that was destroyed on 9/11. We had already seen it months prior lit up against a starry night amid the tall New York skyscrapers; yes it’s quite singular, but what’s disturbing is the holy cross on top of the dome is too small to represent its Christian Orthodox identity.

Many people have complained it outwardly looks like a mausoleum and not a church.  Granted – the architecture clearly designed by a non-Christian Orthodox like Santiago Calatrava really strays from true Byzantine tradition.  The backdrop is Ground Zero’s modernist theme and of course, the World Trade Center.  One is still left with hoping for a more mystical sign – that it is indeed a church.

The nice touch as we entered the shrine, was the welcoming doorman at the door smiling (he was making sure enough space was available as the interior is not that big), thus lending itself to a more cozy, intimate atmosphere like the original little church.  Its seating is not pews, but white solid chairs and once settled in, we agreed the mostly pastel iconography of the visiting monk we met last July, Fr. Loukas of Mount Athos, Greece, has made the inside of shrine, especially near sacristy beautiful. 

The icons are especially heartwarming, against the finely stenciled white walls.  Here in this small space it’s kind of  refreshingly different; it’s not a place to hear a choir singing, no Sunday school for kids, no talking too loud to anyone nearby, as the space rather demands you to be fully present in the liturgy.  Its virtue is its organic simple, atmosphere but, where to light a candle?  It’s by the long bare wall – no icons, nothing but sand and lots of gold beeswax candles to light in a kind of private spot.  Surprisingly, there is only one bathroom.  

The visiting Bishop Apostolos gave an impassioned sermon on the 9/11 experience for us New Yorkers and about pride in being Greek Orthodox (Ok, fair enough, so long as we remember, it’s more important to be spiritually Orthodox First & then Greek, Russian, etc.)

The priest of shrine is Fr. Andreas and Fr. Nektarios was helping him liturgize along with some other clergy, amid the too many cameramen in your face!

Conspicuously absent, was Archbishop Elpidophoros, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, as well as “Vicar-General of the Archdiocese”, Fr. Alex Karloutsos.  The absence of both men was peculiar, given the high priority that the Archdiocese has placed on the rebuilding effort for the Shrine.  As far as Fr. Alex is concerned, he was the head of this shrine project.  (Is it possible he is laying low because his name will be featured prominently in the upcoming trial of the GOA’s former treasurer, Jerry Dimitriou?  Word is that Dimitrious received a very good plea bargain and that he will spill the beans.)

But in my opinion, what ruined sanctity of this solemn affair –who gets the “Cringeworthy Award”–goes to visiting priest, Fr. Evagoras Constantinides,  who ruined the sanctity of the affair by walking in and out of the sacristy door at least a dozen time.  In addition, he was not properly attired in a cassock but was wearing abnormally tight pants and jacket; in addition, his shoes were making loud taps on the marble floor and he wouldn’t stop talking throughout the service.  I later found out that Fr. Evagoras (who is presently the editor of the Orthodox Observer but who had problems in the past when he was director of the Ionian Village) was chosen by Archbishop Elpidophoros to be the “spokesperson” for the St. Nicholas Shrine.  

Kyrie Eleison, let us pray Saint Nicholas in heaven is watching and protecting as we move forward fighting a holy war within our church against their Godless global/homo agenda.


Kyriakos Laskaris*

P.S.  While there, I ran into people who are circulating a petition to remove Archbishop Elpidophoros, which you can access here:
* Fair Use:  Copyright Disclaimer under Section 107 of the copyright act 1976, states allowance is made for fair use for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, scholarship, and research. Fair Use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, one-time, for commentary, tips the balance in favour of fair use.
*Mr Laskaris had asked me earlier to keep his name anonymous.  He recently contacted me and gave me permission to use his name.


  1. Markelka Georgiou says

    I also visited that day and it was bittersweet. A joyous occasion to celebrate the first liturgy in 21 years at St Nicholas!

    The architechture reflects nothing of the Orthodox faith. Our churches physically manifest our faith, this one does not. It is the antithesis of Orthodox expression, harsh unatural lighting, elevator bell ringing during the Gospel reading, no proper narthex. (There is more that an actual architect could describe better than I).

    Maybe that’s why the Bishop referred to it several times as the American Parthenon. God forbid. The Parthenon was a temple for the worship of pagan gods, aka demons.

    The Bishop also referred to the people that died on 9-11 as angels. According to St Dionysios the Aeropagite (and the Holy Scripture) angels are a separate order of beings from humans, human souls do not morph into another order of beings. (May God rest the souls of those that departed on 9-11)

    The Bishop also stated the Orthodox Church should grow in America while espousing his Greek ethnocentric views and essentially “othering” non Greeks.

    Although I am grateful to have worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ and honor Holy Saint Nicholas, it was disappointing to do it inside a building that looks like the air intake for the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel while listening to hypocrisy and elevator bells. All this is superficial and not at all the worst part, that part I bring to Jesus not the internet.

  2. Thx, KL, for being there, and George, for sharing

    From NY Post:

  3. The outside of the temple obviously leaves much to be desired. TBH they could fix it by putting gold on the dome and a larger cross (maybe this is in the works?).

    It actually reminds me of the new(ish) Russian Cathedral in Paris, albeit without the gold domes.

    As for the inside, I really don’t think it’s that bad, I find it rather pretty, again, the walls could use more icons, etc (maybe that’s also in the works?). All-in-all it turned out much better inside than I had thought it would.

    Although I doubt the GOA will be making its ROI on it in the next 200 years. Also, usually Elpi is front and center in front of the camera so I have to imagine he is laying low for a reason.

  4. So why is it you guys don’t post comments that contain truth. I have recorded it all saved screen shots and I’m taking it higher because you guys like to lie and you’re supposedly God believers.
    Not one person was in there passing doing what you said in your PS message
    Nobody was circulating a petition
    And since you’re to scared to reveal who you are then you’re not a true Orthodox. What are you fearing if you believe in God yet you don’t want to let people know who you are!
    Keep declining my comments I will review
    Who you are KL

    • Afrodite, clearly nobody declined your comment
      & ask yourself:
      did you speak to every single visitor
      attending St. Nicholas Shrine re: Elpidoforos?
      I wasn’t there but what rock are you hiding under if you don’t know the mess he’s made?
      When did a Petition ever go around to depose an AB?
      This Turk Govt Agent never even lived a religious,
      monastic life worthy to be Archbishop &
      Synod of Bishops publicly condemned him!
      Patriarch Bartholomew reprimanded Elpi &
      former Archbishop Spyridon never acted so stupid,
      or so “Woke” as our dear fairy AB & yet Spyridon
      was removed.

  5. Alexander II says

    Well, it’s a mixed experience. Let’s momentarily set aside the criminal financing and money laundering backstory that hangs over the entire project.

    I was there yesterday morning. There were a half dozen construction workers still doing interior masonry.

    Aesthetically, the beauty of the iconography is left to the beholder. I found it “pastelly” indeed. Far too much empty space in the church and in the icons themselves. No clue as to why it would have been so hard to have the iconography identify the saints and events in St. Nicholas’ earthly life in English. My Lutheran colleague visiting with me – like the other visitors – would find it helpful.

    I found it operating room sterile. The architecture is unbecoming.

    Mr. Demetrius Arhrandonis aka the he who should be anathematized apostate known to ethnophyletists as His All Intergalactic Poobah, Schism-maker and Paper Shuffler Bartholomew appears in an “icon” with St. Nicholas as the “benefactor” of the church in the narthex. Him? Really?

    In 2025, Francis the Jesuit will find it a nice and familiar place to have a mass before the tonsuring a woman reader and her Episcopalian partner on behalf of Mr. A.

    On the plus side, at least they did not charge admission.

  6. Zoey Metaxas says

    External part is terribly bland, terribly not Christian looking and the tiny cross on top is copper looking and just doesn’t stand out against the sky;
    the cross should’ve been white and much larger to stand out against the sky …
    and if Architect Calatrava wanted to even keep the Shrine as modern as the surrounding World Trade Center area, like the impressive, sleek Freedom Tower, why didn’t he make the Shrine sleek —
    instead of fat — looks like army bunker or typical community center?

    No, GOA once again, made huge mistake choosing wrong Architect who isn’t even Orthodox Christian
    because Santiago Calatrava is Jewish and charged
    way too much money. It’s beyond me why GOA shows little loyalty to the Faith in everything they do.
    But thank goodness we hear the feckless Archbishop Elpidophoros didn’t show for opening day; he needs to go back to Istanbul after the endless embarrassment and damage he’s caused.

  7. John Sakelaris says

    I have not been there. The icons were impressive in the Shrine’s internet site. I did not see one with Bartholomew, as was referenced above.

    Comments above included the interior having “harsh unnatural lighting” and being “operating room sterile.” It reminds me of what happened recently when I discovered that the new light bulbs in my bedroom created a harsh glare. I will replace them with soft light bulbs. Yes, sometimes a little change with the lighting can make a big difference. I hope the Archdiocese considers this.

    I like the cross on the top of the outside dome.

  8. George Michalopulos says

    I someday hope to visit NYC someday and if so, visit the Shrine. Having said that, I am impressed with the iconography, however from what I see in toto, there’s a lot of incongruities there: Byzantine iconography in a modernist silo; sparing architecture and white seats as opposed to pews. (I hate pews but I truly hate theatre seating in a church, any church.)

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it’s a mishmash.

    Then there’s the huge cost overruns. Is this because of money-laundering for the Ukraine project? As to the icon of Patriarch Bartholomew “presenting” the edifice to St Nicholas, the less said, the better.

    It’s all so unserious.

    • John Sakelaris says

      I did finally find the image of Bartholomew presenting the church to St Nicholas, buried deep in the website of the Shrine. That web page also worked to give the whole matter some precedent by showing how previous Orthodox clerics and even laypeople have been portrayed in iconography in the act of presenting a church edifice over the last 1500 years.

      I have not taken a stand concerning any efforts to depose Bartholomew or Elpidophoros and I am not doing so now. I actually hope things will go well with them. But if bad things do come out, we can rest assured that, unlike a statue, an icon can simply be painted (or written) over.

  9. Conspicuously absent, was Archbishop Elpidophoros

    Apparently he’s at a monastic conference at St. Anthony’s in AZ

    • Gail Sheppard says

      After 2 decades, it’s strange Elpi, Karloutsos, & Catsimatidis were MIA, as was Dennis Mehiel, who served as Chairman from the beginning of the Friends of St. Nicholas, stepping down as recently as last August. What could be the reason?

      I heard Michael Psaros was there.

      The Saturday evening before, The Hellenic Initiative’s(THI) hosted a 10th anniversary New York Gala where they honored the head of Pfizer of all people. That morning (12/3), THI “in connection with the Friends of St. Nicholas, gave 150 THI New Leaders and Board members a private tour of St. Nicholas.”

      Yet no one but Psaros was there for the first Liturgy on the feast day of St. Nicholas 3 days later???? Very strange.

      Surely there is a reason.

      • I have an honest question for those who are/ were members of the St. Nicholas parish/building that was destroyed on 9-11.

        Is this new edifice still your parish temple (in addition to all the other stuff it represents)? Do the members who worshipped in the building that was destroyed now have this new building for their parish temple?

        Also, assuming he is still alive and still working, is the parish priest still the same man?

        If either or both of these is the case, I can certainly understand why you, at least, would want to celebrate your parish feast day liturgy mostly among yourselves without all the fanfare required for hosting honored guests.

        If not, it is rather strange that the key ‘players’ were absent.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I think they intended it to be a memorial/shrine as opposed to a traditional parish. I remember that question being asked at a Leadership 100 meeting and Elpi said they would assign a priest, which, of course, they would have to do to hold onto their 501c3 status.

          [Edited 12/17/22]

          It seems like 9-11 (the day the world changed for the American people) wasn’t all that long ago, but it’s been 21 years if you can believe it. I imagine that many of the people who were attached to the original St. Nicholas have moved on.

          It’s hard to imagine what they went through when they woke up that morning and learned what had happened. The first place you would want to go would be to your parish to pray, but even their parish was in shambles. That must have been pretty hard to take. So, I’m sure some of them were there remembering, which was the whole point of the shrine. Not to be a parish but to be a place to remember.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I misspoke before. Fr. Andreas, the priest assigned to St. Nicholas, was “perfectly attired,” per our source. It was Fr. Evogaras Constantinides who wasn’t wearing a cassock.

      • It is very peculiar that Elpi wasn’t there, given how much he pines for the spotlight, this should have been a crowning achievement for him.

        I feel the same as you Gail, something must be going on behind the scenes. Elpi has also been rather silent lately in general.

        Maybe he has FINALLY realized the decks are stacked against him on the Assembly.

        What is even less believable than him not being in front of the cameras at the shrine is him attending a monastic conference at St. Anthony’s with the focus of the conference being Elder Ephraim. I have a friend that lives near St. Anthony’s and got this info from him.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Interestingly, his schedule says he’s been at the Phanar. Did this friend of your actually see him in AZ?

          No doubt about it in my mind. Something is brewing. All the papers were taking about the Liturgy. None of them would have missed that unless something else is going on.

          • Yep, on the calendar it says he’s at St. Anthony’s from 16-18th for a monastic synaxis

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Indeed it does.

              So Elpi goes to St Anthony’s, skips the feast day and Liturgy at St. Nicholas, goes to the Phanar, then back to the Monastic Synaxis with a Board of Trustees Meeting in between.

              Maybe he is trying to work out the details of the new Charter. It wouldn’t surprise me if the monasteries wanted to make some changes to their previous agreement moving forward. Bartholomew has made it clear he will make all final decisions, but without the old Charter in place, I’m not sure how he can do that.

              This may be why Elpi is going back and forth but doesn’t explain why he and so many others did not show up at St. Nicholas. Were they told to stay away from St. Nicholas? If so, it doesn’t bode well for them.

              Getting back to the new Charter, quickly, although they continued to accept donations through the old EIN number.

              This is a legal question: If the previous Charter is dead, which was widely reported, can the monastics change the terms when in comes to the new Charter? Maybe someone can explain how this works. Seems to me if your old agreement is null and void, you can negotiate anything you want going forward.

              However, they’re ecclesiastically tied to the GOA. Not sure what that means in terms of a Charter. Do they have the authority to dictate terms to the EP?

    • Joseph Lipper says

      This was a wholeheartedly beautiful speech he gave in support of monasticism in America:

      Notable is his mention of St. Joseph the Hesychast’s and Elder Ephraim’s prayerful support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        How many times has he talked about monasticism? 2 or 3 times, maybe?

        • Joseph Lipper says

          He was the abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Halki from 2011 to 2019. That must count for something.

          • It might do. I’m not a usual visitor to this blog, but one of your regular commenters has asked me to share my experience on this matter. I’m a hieromonk in ROCOR and visited Halki monastery and seminary a number of years ago, when Abp. Elpidophoros was still abbot. I didn’t get to meet him as planned – he was called away to a meeting – but my impression was that he had done a lot of positive work at Halki.

            Remember the context – the seminary has been closed down for fifty years and the monastery, I believe, is not allowed to function as such. The then-Metropolitan Elpidophoros had basically brought the seminary up to contemporary standards, ready to open up and receive students at several days’ notice.

            As for the monastery, there were no monks there, but instead he had around a dozen “laymen” – librarians, janitors, cooks, gardeners, on-site clergy – who had brought the monastery up to a level of basic functionality with vegetable gardens, communal meals, a basic cycle of services, and various obediences.

            As you may have guessed, these men were all novices, but they wore lay clothes instead of monastic dress to as not to attract the attention of the Turkish authorities. Of course, there were also a large number of cats, as is appropriate for an Orthodox monastery.

            In this case, at least, the Archbishop did a good and God-pleasing work. I will refrain from commenting on anything else he’s done. I will stop by the blog again this evening if anyone has any questions about my impression of Halki.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Thank you for the analysis.

              It wasn’t until August 2011, Elpi was appointed Abbot of the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of the Holy Trinity. I don’t think anyone’s disputing that he hired staff but as far as being ready to open up and receive students, that had been the case for a long time according to Bartholomew.

              in 2003, the following was reported: “ISTANBUL – There’s an air of expectancy at the Greek Orthodox theological college on the island of Heybeliada (Halki in Greek), off Istanbul – neatly folded towels await students at the foot of newly made dormitory beds – even though the school has been closed for the past 32 years. «Everything is ready for us to start up again,» says Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios.”

              I’m sure Elpi hired janitors, cooks, and gardeners, but that doesn’t mean they were necessary “layman.” As you indicated, he wasn’t always there and there were no real monastics living there.

              The point is, he did not have the opportunity to live within a monastic community so when he talks about his experience as an abbot or even a monastic, it’s not what one might imagine.

              Not to say he wasn’t doing anything. He was an active member of the World Council of Churches serving on its Central Committee and also serving on its Faith and Order Commission since 1996.

              • Maybe you misread or I wasn’t clear – those men were real monastics, just not tonsured yet. They were living a monastic life at Halki and the Metropolitan was there for periods of time. They weren’t hired, but were undercover novices whom he gathered to himself to get the monastery functional. It was definitely a real monastic community. I ate and prayed with them.

                As for Halki’s readiness, they’ve always had the towels on the beds, I suppose, but he had recently upgraded the infrastructure to 21st century university standards, although those modern classrooms were hidden from the public (and Turks), who only get to see the old classrooms with the blackboards and chalk.

                I will leave now. I hope this was helpful.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  I thought real monastics have to be tonsured. Pilgrims, of course, are drawn to monasteries and do odd jobs so maybe that’s what you’re talking about.

                  • Gail, he wrote twice that they were novices. Novices are monastics, but not tonsured yet.

                    Since he wrote that he was a hieromonk, I’m going to go on the assumption that he knows what he’s talking about more than most of us here.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Of course, I read what he said! I am not disputing it. I am trying to understand it.

                      He said: “As for the monastery, there were no monks there, but instead he had around a dozen “laymen” – librarians, janitors, cooks, gardeners, on-site clergy. . .” Later he said, “As you may have guessed, these men were all novices, but they wore lay clothes instead of monastic dress to as not to attract the attention of the Turkish authorities.”

                      I had not guessed they were novices and “layman” usually don’t live in monastic communities so I was having a hard time understanding what he was saying.

                      I have a close friend who lived at St. Anthony’s in AZ. After a period of time (I believe it was a year or two), he was scheduled to be fitted with a cassock and he had to either move forward and become a novice or leave the community. Pilgrims, of course, can live and work in the community for as long they want, as long as they have a blessing from the abbot. In the Greek Church, it is my understanding that novices are tonsured as Rasophore. Maybe our guest will help clarify this.

                      I was not disagreeing with him, I was trying to reconcile what he said with what I know which is why I said, “I thought real monastics have to be tonsured. Pilgrims, of course, are drawn to monasteries and do odd jobs so maybe that’s what you’re talking about.”

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      P.S. Honestly, Basil, et. al, the status of Halki Seminary continues to be a mystery. Even good ‘ol Wikipedia says, “The Patriarchate had hoped that promises from the Turkish government to allow the seminary to reopen would be enacted, this has not come to pass . . . As of 2021, Halki remains closed.”

                      I know this isn’t entirely true because in 2013, Elpi said: “We’re opening Halki. We’re opening it even before it’s opened as a Theological School by the Turkish authorities. We’re opening it as a coenobitic monastery. We’re opening it as a venue for Church events. We’re opening it as a place for meetings, conferences and symposia. We’re opening it as a pilgrimage shrine. We’re opening it as a centre for hospitality. We’re opening it as a place of study, in the Library. We’re opening it. What we want from you is your presence at our side in all our efforts.”

                      He also said, “One of the priorities I set when His All-Holiness entrusted me with responsibility for the Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Halki was to re-staff it with a brotherhood. At the time, in September 2011, there was only Father Dorotheos, whom the Lord took to his rest in April last year. Since then, Father Samouil has been ordained, first to the diaconate then the priesthood, and the Patriarch promoted him last February to the position of Archimandrite of the Most Holy Archdiocese of Constantinople. In March, I performed the tonsure of the monk Galinos, whom I shall ordain deacon at the forthcoming feast of Pentecost. Thereafter it’s the turn of the novice Dimitrios, a graduate of the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki. So you see, God took Father Dorotheos from us, but has sent three others in his place. So we can say that through the prayers of Our Lady Who Eases Sorrow, the core of a brotherhood for the monastery has been formed.”

                      That’s 3 people at the time who “formed the core of the brotherhood.”

                      If there were a number of novices there at some point, pretending to be laymen under the radar, it is not common knowledge which made what our guest said so interesting. I am still confused about the novice without tonsure thing but I’ll educate myself on that.

                      Getting back to Elpi, he is NOT known for his monastic formation, for a lack of a better term. Until August 2011, he was an academic and only one part of a single sentence in his official biography even mentions his time at Halki.

                      I can understand why someone on the blog might have encouraged our guest to write about his experiences and though I don’t disbelieve him, it’s impossible to verify without knowing who he is, when he was there, etc. I hope he was for real because if he wasn’t that would mean someone connected with this blog was being disingenuous and I don’t want to entertain that thought.

                      The bottom line is this: Elpi’s ideas are diametrically opposed to the traditional teaching of the Church. This is an undisputed fact. Yes, pretty words come out of his mouth when the occasion calls for it, however, his actions speak louder than words, and this last foray into gay baptism is indicative of every position he holds. He is as woke as they come and he is 100% consistent.

                    • Until one is a rassophore (though still a novice), one is not really considered to be a monk but a layman in preparation:



                      This is significant because during this period one can leave with impunity and need not wear monastic garb. It is an introductory trial period. Rassophore, really, is a further trial period but one is then actually considered a monk.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Thanks, Misha. This helps.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Basil, personally I am withholding judgment regarding the Archbishop’s attitudes towards monasticism –pro or con. I hope for the best but given the enormous missteps he’s made sucking up to the GOA’s worldly elements, I have to wonder.

                      Given that, I can’t help but wonder about the bona fides of the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding a lot of what they do. They’ve taken to calling Halki a seminary when it hasn’t been one for fifty years. I fear that the monastery which you reference on that island is more for show than anything serious.

                      After all, the constant self-identification of Cpole as “the New Rome” and that patriarchate as “the Mother Church” of Orthodoxy can’t help but cause me to question their seriousness about other things.

                      Please note, I wouldn’t mind at all if Halki reopened as a bona fide seminary with dozens of students. I also wouldn’t mind if the Holy Trinity monastery expanded in significant numbers. Perhaps some day, both things will happen. But before people can begin a program of reform, they have to be able to accept that problems exist.

                      Nothing in the Phanar’s recent past indicates to me that they are realistic.

                      What’s worse, is the constant kvetching about Russia and “the Slavs” that are the constant commentary that come out of the EP’s speeches (as well as the Archon’s lame propaganda). Things like this makes it plain that Istanbul suffers from a significant inferiority complex.

                      This does not give anyone confidence.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Thank you, HMT. I appreciate you coming on the blog.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Basil, personally I am withholding judgment regarding the Archbishop’s attitudes towards monasticism –pro or con. I hope for the best but given the enormous missteps he’s made sucking up to the GOA’s worldly elements, I have to wonder.

                    Given that, I can’t help but wonder about the bona fides of the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding a lot of what they do. They’ve taken to calling Halki a seminary when it hasn’t been one for fifty years. I fear that the monastery which you reference on that island is more for show than anything serious.

                    After all, the constant self-identification of Cpole as “the New Rome” and that patriarchate as “the Mother Church” of Orthodoxy can’t help but cause me to question their seriousness about other things.

                    Please note, I wouldn’t mind at all if Halki reopened as a bona fide seminary with dozens of students. I also wouldn’t mind if the Holy Trinity monastery expanded in significant numbers. Perhaps some day, both things will happen. But before people can begin a program of reform, they have to be able to accept that problems exist.

                    Nothing in the Phanar’s recent past indicates to me that they are realistic.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Gail, you took the words right out of my mouth. As I have admitted on this blog, I have tried to give the Archbishop the benefit of the doubt on more than one occasion. In retrospect, more so than was justified.

                      As shocked as I was about the whole BLM thing and the insane COVID mandates, for me, the final straw was his illogical speech at the annual March for Life. It’s all been downhill since then.

                      These actions did not correlate with a monastic mindset if you ask me. Perhaps, the powers-that-be in the GOA are the ones who are driving the train in this regard.



                      It always surprises me when any hierarch in the GOA speaks so glowingly about Elder Ephraim and his monasteries…..especially Elpi.

                      The cynical part of me is wandering what his angle is.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      I don’t think Elpi ever met Elder Ephraim.

                      In all the time he spent as the Orthodox Secretary of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation, as a member of the Patriarchal delegations to the General Assemblies of the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches, as Secretary of the Pan-Orthodox Synods in Sofia (1998), Istanbul (2005), Geneva (2006), and Istanbul (2008), as an active member of the World Council of Churches serving on its Central Committee and serving on its Faith and Order Commission since 1996, as the Deputy Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod, and as an ABBOT, he never took the time to meet the man who is credited with starting 19 monasteries for the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the jurisdiction where he would one day be archbishop.

                      Again, a picture is worth 1000 words. Of course my eyes go directly to Father Paisio in this picture, who is standing next to Elpi:

                      Few would argue, Elpi seems more in his element in this picture:

                      I don’t know how sincere he is about what he says about monasticism, but it doesn’t inspire him enough to write new material for each occasion.

                      In reference to Elder Ephraim, he had this to say at Second Monastic Synaxis: “with his ascetic simplicity, but full missionary zeal, not only transferred the Orthodox monastic tradition to America and Canada, but also became the founder of dozens of monastic communities. . .”

                      At the funeral of Elder Ephraim he said virtually the same thing: “With his ascetic simplicity but full of missionary zeal, with certain knowledge from above concerning the success of this undertaking, our Elder not only transmitted the Orthodox monastic tradition to America and Canada, but founded dozens of monastic communities.”


                      There are other examples of this. Truly a “man for all seasons.”

                      At the Second Monastic Synaxis, he mentions 7 names before he mentions Elder Ephraim: Fr. Georgios Kapsanis, Saint Anthony, Saint Savvas, Saint Theodore, Saint Athanasius, Saint Joseph the Hesychast, Saint Silouan the Athonite and then he briefly references Elder Ephraim, but only as a segue back to Saint Joseph the Hesychast.

                      When he finally circles back to Elder Ephraim, WHO STARTED THIS COMMUNITY, he begins with this: “Many opposed the Elder. . . ” Why would he use this as a way of introducing the Elder who started that community; the community that, in fact, is the most closely associated with Elder Ephraim?

                      It would be like giving a eulogy and starting with: “Many people hated your dad, but . . .!”

                      How many other monastics does he know who have even come close to doing what Elder Ephraim did for monasticism? -0-

                      And that’s why I think Elpi is not a fan. The Elder was too successful and the polar opposite of him.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Hence, the conundrum.

                      OK, I’m gonna step in it: I don’t think beards make a saint, or the longer the beard the greater the saint. Having said that, maybe it’s time for the bishops of the GOA to try to look more monastic? I realize this won’t sit well with the worldly, Karloutsos set (and the wives of the Archons will think them “icky”) but wouldn’t that send a message that the GOA is more serious?

                      After all, His Holiness the EP doesn’t shave, so I can’t see why this should be upsetting to the GOA laity.

                      I know, I know, I opened up a can of worms: just because Bartholomew doesn’t shave doesn’t mean he’s not a globalist more happy in secular settings. But, you get my drift?

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      They aren’t saints, George. Why would they want to look like one? Their world is the outside world and they fit in perfectly there.

  10. Where to begin? Some observations and comments.
    First, regarding the architecture of the church. Someone remarked that it resembles an atomic power plant. As far as building a traditional Orthodox structure, as well as saving millions of dollars, the Chapel at Hellenic College/Holy Cross, perhaps the best representation of Greek Orthodox architecture in the US, would have been a wonderful model for the new St. Nicholas. (Except for the chapel’s lighting.) The truth of the matter is that such a traditional structure would never have been approved.
    The iconography is very good indeed, as is all of the work produced by the fathers at Xenofontos monastery on Mt. Athos, perhaps the best in the world. I know because I was privileged to spend some time in the iconography studio, and to see the work up close is an amazing experience. The dynamism of the iconography in St. Nicholas is diminished by the background. There is a reason why the background color of wall paintings is traditionally dark blue (whereas the background of mosaics is properly gold). As far as Patriarch Bartholomew presenting the church, there is a long tradition of such iconography. Of course, any negative reaction is undoubtedly influenced by the less than favorable impression many have of the patriarch.
    Now, since the petition to remove Archbishop Elpidophoros was referred to in the article, it is worth mentioning that an interesting connection to the infamous baptism in Greece has come to light. The Church of Greece was asked to approve of the marriage of a man, who was previously a woman, to a woman. The Patriarchal Synod was asked for an opinion. It is not known whether he (she?) was born a hermaphrodite or underwent a sex change operation. Stay tuned.
    Finally is the reference to the Archbishop marching in parades/demonstrations. It is my opinion that the Church is best served when clergy of any rank do not participate in any demonstration, regardless of the reason.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      The iconography is indeed beautiful.

    • Of course there is a longstanding tradition of the “benefactors,” “ktitori,” or “zaduzbinari” depicted as presenting the newly constructed church to an enthroned Mother of God, with Christ in her lap. And typically, the benefactor is being led by the hand by a saint. In the Slavic traditions at least, the saint is often the familial patron of the benefactor.

      The problem here is how in the world can anyone fairly consider Demetrius Arhrandonis as the benefactor of this particular church? What, now a mafia Don, sitting atop the money-laundering scheme excused by the SDNY attorney general at the bequest of a corrupt State Department qualifies? There are likely dozens of honest and well-intended people who could be so depicted — if it is even necessary. I daresay, non-Orthodox NYFD, NYPD, and other first responders, or even the original benefactors of the destroyed chapel, would be infinitely more appropriate. Certainly not this apostate clown.

      Again, the aesthetic beauty of the iconography lies in the beholder. Go for it, whether you’ve seen it in person, on the internet, or a newspaper. All I can say is that in person, to this beholder, it was far from impressive. The icons on the ikonostasis — painted by monks or otherwise — looked primitive, almost color by numbers.

      Another odd thing to note.

      On the exterior of the church, where one might find the cornerstone, there is an inscription, that starts with “All those who gave their last full measure Eternal Memory” and then, what I would assume is Eternal Memory in Greek.

      Thereafter, John 15:13 appears, first in Greek, and then English, “Greater love has no one than this, to sacrifice your life for your friends.” (Ironic these days given the criticism heaped upon the Bishop of Moscow for referencing the same passage in another context.)

      So far so good. But then, beneath that, in Greek and in English, is an excerpt from the Funeral Oration of Pericles, recorded by Thucydides in book two of his famous History of the Peloponnesian War, which was given, I believe some four centuries before Christ.

      For they gave their lives for the common weal,
      and in so doing won for themselves the praise which grows not old, and the most distinguished of all sepulchers –
      not that in which they lie buried,
      but that in which their glory survives in everlasting remembrance.

      Hmmmm …

      There’s another article on this blog addressing seemingly satanic imagery in “Christmas” decorations in the White House and a boatload of opinions on intent, meaning and what not.

      So, how do we opine on the placement of the inscription? Is it to remind us of the greatness of Athens? Is it to “remind” or convince us that all things Christian are built upon the greatness of Greece? Compare. Contrast. Explain.

      I dunno. But make no doubt about it, this is first and foremost a Greek “church.”

      • Markella Georgiou says

        Something about those quotes makes me uncomfortable. Where are they I want to look at them next time Im there?

        • Alexander II says

          As you approach the front doors, to the immediate left, about knee high, in gold lettering. Like I said, about where you’d find a cornerstone.

          On the immediate right as you approach the front doors, is a logo of the structure itself. And beneath the logo it says, “Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center.”

          Words have meaning. These are interesting words.

          I’d upload a picture, but don’t know if that is possible.

          In the days, weeks, and months following 9/11 individuals, parishes and other Orthodox institutions collected and sent donations from collection baskets, fundraisers and the goodness of their hearts. Not sure how these folks, if at all, are recognized. If something is there I missed it.

          Maybe Emmanuel, formerly of Gaul, issued a thank you after he used the money to pay his Bulgarian Stallions.

          • “Words have meaning…”

            Cambridge Dictionary | Make your words meaningful

            ‘ an adult who lives and identifies as female though they
            may have been said to have a different sex at birth ‘

            If they can’t tell the difference between ‘one’ (‘an’) and ‘more than
            one’ (‘they’) what chance do they have when it comes to sex?

  11. It looks like a catering hall. White banquet seats and all.

  12. Not wearing a cassock & disrupting holy service on opening day is least of Fr. Evagoras’ problem –
    it’s his obnoxious narcissism & my own friend
    told me her teenage son was verbally abused by him at
    Ionian Village & rightfully fired;
    Evagoras Constantinides is tolerated because
    of his Leftism & Nepotism.

  13. Let’s remember to pray for the Church of Cyprus. The Holy Synod is meeting tomorrow to vote on the next Archbishop.

    It’s my understanding that if there is no clear winner then a name will be chosen at random.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      The attached says this: ” . . . if a candidate received a majority of both the lay and ex-officio votes, he would win outright, but if, after two votes, no one achieved a dual majority, there would be a runoff election between the top two candidates, with only a simple majority of all voters required to win.”

      • It looks like George of Paphos has won the Archbishopric, which is pretty surprising. The people clearly favored Athanasios.

        I do not know a lot about him

        • Cyprus gets new pro-west archbishop

          ‘ The Holy Synod in Cyprus elected a new archbishop on Sunday, staying on a pro-western course in a deeply divided Orthodox church on the island and other parts of the world.

          Georgios of Paphos got 11 votes out of 16 in a secret ballot of the Church of Cyprus’ Holy Synod on Sunday morning.

          The new archbishop was one of three top contenders after Greek Cypriot Orthodox Christian voters last week narrowed the list of possible successors to Chrysostomos II, who died last month after a long battle with cancer.

          Georgios is from Paphos, where Chrysostomos also hailed, with both of them having been described in the past as political and pro-western.

          Voters in the Republic of Cyprus, which excluded Russian nationals after a technical decision by the Holy Synod, picked Limassol Bishop Athanasios with 35.68%, Paphos Bishop Georgios with 18.39%, and Tamasos Bishop Isaiah with 18.1%.

          Four bishops voted for Athanasios on Sunday while there was also one blank.

          The installment of a new archbishop in Cyprus was a high stakes political affair as contenders had to navigate a deeply divided society where influences from East and West were being renegotiated.

          After the death of Chrysostomos, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew flew on a special flight from Istanbul to Larnaca through Greek airspace to attend the funeral, an unusual visit that marked the first time in 400 years that a Patriarch of Constantinople set foot on the island.

          Both Bartholomew and Chrysostomos had sided with Kiev in a religious battle between East and West, while Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who also attended the funeral, called on the successor to follow the late archbishop’s legacy and keep the Church of Cyprus on the same path with the patriarch.

          Athanasios and Isaiah were among those who disagreed with the Chrysostomos’ recognition of an independent church in Ukraine, but none of the contenders brought up the issue following a truce spearheaded by the late primate on his deathbed. ‘

          • George Michalopulos says

            You know, when they say “pro-West,” I take them at their word. I also believe that things don’t always turn out as they (the globalists) plan for. “Man plans, God laughs.”

        • Unsurprising. To me at least.

          Christ is born!

        • Although Athanasios received the largest number of votes from the laity (and would probably have done even better had Russians been allowed to vote), it’s not too surprising that a pro-western candidate won. The final decision was with the Synod, and those who had objected to Chrisostomos’ recognition of Dumenko were in the minority, a minority that evidently shrunk a bit. Isaiah, who was a protege of Nikiforos, nonetheless ended up supporting the winner. Although he received the largest number of votes from the laity, he was considered a long shot with regard to how the Synod would vote. Apparently, his relations with other members of the Synod were sometimes difficult.

          (See,, sixth paragraph.)