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Thursday, June 23, 2011

O Cristo Redentor

Image courtesy triptourism.com.

On July 7, 2007, Brazil's internationally known icon - the statue of Christ the Redeemer - was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World by the New Open World Corporation.  Two years later it was declared a monument protected by IPHAN, the Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage, a government agency of Brazil.

Image courtesy NewOpenWorld Foundation.

The largest art deco statue in the world stands 130 feet tall (including the 31-foot pedestal) and is 98 feet wide and 699 tons.  It stands on the peak of 2,300 foot Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park in Rio de Janeiro.  From this vantage point, one can see downtown Rio de Janeiro, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.

Image courtesy of triptourism.com.

The idea of erecting a statue there was introduced in the mid-1850s.  Pedro Maria Boss, a Catholic priest, proposed to Princess Caroline that she fund a large religious monument, but she wasn't interested.  It became a moot point in 1889, when Brazil became a republic country with laws mandating the separation of church and state.

Image courtesy of Emesbe/Wikipedia.

In 1921 the Catholic Circle of Rio proposed again that a landmark statue be erected on the mountain.  They organized Semana do Monumento, Monument Week, to gather donations and collect signatures in support of the idea.  Brazilian Catholics responded.

Comparison in height:  Spring Temple Buddha, Statue of Liberty, The Motherland
Calls, Christ the Redeemer, and David.  Image courtesy of Anna Frodesiak/Wikipedia.

Among the designs submitted for the monument were a giant cross and a statue of Jesus with a globe in his hand, but Christ the Redeemer with open arms was selected.  Heitor da Silva Costa, a local engineer, designed it.  It was sculpted by Paul Landowski, a Frenchman.  It was decided that it would be built out of reinforced concrete, with the outer layers from soapstone.  The cost was U.S. $250,000 (about $3,000,000 today).

Image courtesy copacabana.com

The monument was unveiled on October 12, 1931.  Floodlights aimed at the statue were meant to be turned on remotely by Guglielmo Marconi, the shortwave pioneer, in Rome, but due to bad weather it had to be lit locally.

Image courtesy triptourism.com

October 2006 was its 75th anniversary.  Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid consecrated a chapel that holds 150 people under the statue, which allow Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings there.  The chapel was named Nossa Senhora Apareicida - Our Lady of the Apparition.

Image courtesy of triptourism.com

On February 10, 2008, the statue was struck by lightening, suffering damage to the fingers, head, and eyebrows.  Restoration was made by the government and the archdiocese to replace some of the soapstone and repair the lightening rods installed on the statue.

Image courtesy triptourism.com.

Last April the statue was vandalized and graffiti was left on the head and right arm. Restoration work is ongoing.  Maintenance is also ongoing due to the strong winds and rain in the area.  Arms held out to embrace the world, this statue is ready for anything.


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