The Ground Zero Cross was discovered by construction worker Frank Silecchia. He came across it in the rubble of the World Trade Center just a few days after September 11, 2001. It stood straight, twenty-feet high, surrounded by a number of smaller crosses. It was not simply cross beams that remained from an existing building. It was formed out of beams from Building One that had plunged, split and crashed into Building Six! The cross weighed a couple of tons.
Frank worked with the search-and-rescue teams at Ground Zero. On September 13, 2011, blanketed with dirt and dust and near exhaustion, he came upon the area where the atrium of the World Trade Center had been. There he found the twenty-foot cross standing above several smaller crosses in a grotto-like setting. He felt a strange peace in the stillness of the area around the cross. Frank recalls, “I could almost hear God saying, ‘The terrible thing done at this site was meant for evil. But I will turn it to good. Have faith, I am here.’” Frank and other workers sprayed orange Xs to show where they had already been in the wreckage. He sprayed the words “God’s House” on the ruins surrounding the cross.
Day after day Frank worked digging through the ruins. It was extremely difficult and exhausting labor. When he thought he couldn’t go on with his work, he would go to “God’s House” and the steel-beam cross, where he would find renewed strength and comfort for his spirit.
Firemen, policemen, grieving survivors, dignitaries, clergymen, fellow workers and others found the same healing effect from the cross. Frank’s friend, Father Brian Jordan, was a priest from St. Francis of Assisi in New York, and he became the chaplain at Ground Zero. When it was time to remove the wreckage surrounding the cross, Father Jordan convinced officials that the cross should be saved.
When the cross was first removed from the area, ironworkers affixed it to a concrete base. It was then raised and mounted onto a forty-foot foundation that had once been a walkway for pedestrians at the World Trade Center. It was visible to rescue workers who were working below it in the cratered pit. It became a symbol of faith and hope.
The cross was later transported four blocks away from Ground Zero. For weeks many people came to that site to hold Sunday services. Scribbled on the cross were the names of the fallen police officers and firefighters, as well as the message “God Bless our Fallen Brothers”.
On October 5, 2006, it was moved to St. Peter's Church, the city’s oldest Catholic parish. A plaque there read "The Cross at Ground Zero – Found September 13, 2001; blessed October 4, 2001; Temporarily relocated October 15, 2006. Will return to WTC Museum, a sign of comfort for all”
The cross inspired people all over the world, as it was moved from place to place in Lower Manhattan until the memorial was finished. Its journey finally came to an end when it was brought to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum on May 15, 2014.
The cross has been and continues to be a tremendous comfort to many and shows how God is present in all circumstances. "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good." Proverbs 15:3 (NASB)