Ground-zero construction worker Frank Silecchia saw his personal dream come true yesterday at the ruins of the World Trade Center - one of the large steel crosses he discovered in the smoking rubble was consecrated in a formal prayer service.
Firefighters came. Police officers came. Construction workers, rescue personnel, Port Authority officers and others - all gathered at the foot of the 12-foot-tall cross to watch Father Brian Jordan, a Franciscan friar, bless the cross and pray for "the healing mercy of God on all Americans."
Silecchia, a born-again Christian, found several crosses standing upright in the smoldering wreckage three days after the attack. They were crossbeams that had fallen from the top of the collapsing north tower and landed in an unusual position.
Believing them to be a sign from God, Silecchia dubbed the area "God's House," and led distraught rescue workers there to pray.
Word spread as priests and pastors ministering on the site encountered the structures, and told others how startling they appeared.
Silecchia led Father Jordan to the site two Sundays ago.
"It was astounding," Jordan said. "When he showed it to me, I was an instant believer."
Silecchia told the priest that the crosses should be saved for a permanent memorial. Jordan agreed, and contacted Deputy Mayor Joseph Lhota to make arrangements.
The most significant of the crosses was removed from the wreckage, affixed by ironworkers to a permanent base, then placed on the high walkway over West Street.
Yesterday, some 300 people gathered there for prayer and reflections.
Silecchia told them the cross was not a symbol of a particular religion, but of the healing power of God. Indeed, Jordan said that several non-Christians at ground zero told him they embraced that cross as their own.
"It's their cross," the priest said. "And now it's America's cross."
A teary-eyed firefighter said the cross helped him overcome his anger.
"We thought the devil was here, but with this cross, we know God is here," the firefighter said.
The above article, written by The New York Post columnist Rod Dreher, was published in the October 5, 2001 edition.
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