The call of the giant statues of Jesus
Christ the Redeemer, the iconic 125-foot statue of Jesus overlooking Rio de Janeiro, will soon have an even greater rival: Christ the Protector. The 140-foot statue, under construction 700 miles to the south, will join dozens of similar works around the world. But the influence of the 90-year-old original remains unmatched.
The Protector Christ has outstretched arms which make him look almost identical to his predecessor. But the statue, located in the small rural town of Encantado, also has an internal elevator that will allow visitors to climb up to an observation platform in the heart of the statue. The $ 350,000 project, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year, appears to be intended to give tourism boost to Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state. But tourism is not the only reason.
The Protector Christ is one of three dozen giant statues of Jesus that were built around the world during the 20th and 21st centuries, mainly in Latin America but also in Europe, Africa and Asia. Funding usually comes from individual donations encouraged by local politicians. Every now and then, wealthy businessmen have made characters their favorite projects to boost their egos.
Colossal statues, such as the monumental medieval Buddhas of China and Central Asia that can reach over 200 feet, were not unheard of until the 20th century. But their heavy material, usually stone, made it impossible for them to self-sculpt at these heights. The substitution by the Statue of Liberty of a copper coating for the stone made it extremely expensive. But the invention of reinforced concrete made it possible to build extremely tall free-standing statues at a reasonable price.
Christ Protector will only be the third tallest statue of Jesus in the world to date. The largest is Jesus Buntu Burake in Makale, Indonesia, completed in 2015 and peaking at 172 feet with its pedestal. But that might not hold the distinction for long: A 253-foot statue of Jesus has been planned in Tamaulipas, Mexico, though the project has so far been at a standstill.