RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL.- The Christ the Redeemer sculpture in the Corcovado hill in Rio de Janeiro is celebrating its 75th anniversary and has also been declared a new Brazilian sanctuary. The sculpture measures 38 meters high and weighs 1.145 tons. The celebrations were headed by Eusebio Oscar Scheid, who read a letter by Pope Benedict 16th after a mass. In his letter the pope sates that the sculpture is more than a simple turist attraction. Each year the sculpture has around 1.3 million visitors.
The statue of Christ was first conceived in 1921, when the "Monument Week" – a campaign created to gather funds from the Catholic Community – was held. Nevertheless, donations only happened ten years later, due to Arcebishop Dom Sebastião Leme’s coordination of the campaign.
The first sketches of the statue were designed by the artist Carlos Oswald, who pictured Christ carrying a cross, holding a globe in his hands, while standing over a pedestal symbolizing the world. Rio’s population preferred the statue as it is known worldwide today, with its arms open, embracing all the people, also designed by Carlos Oswald.
The project was developed by brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and it took almost five years to be completed.
After many studies on which materials should be employed in the construction, the "soap stone" was chosen because of its resistance to time, weather changes, cracking and deformation, even though it is so soft that even a finger nail may scratch it.
This same kind of stone was widely used by the sculptor Aleijadinho, creator of the statues of the Prophets in Congonhas do Campo, in the State of Minas Gerais.
Building the monument wasn’t easy. Since the execution of this task in Brazil wasn’t possible then, the drafts had to be sent to France, to the hands of the French-Polish sculptor Paul Landowski, who idealized the design of the hands and head of the monument. Back to the Country, the parts were carried up using the Corcovado Railroad, and joined together up the hill. The statue of Christ the Redeemer pays homage to Rio’s religiosity, and has become a symbol of the City and of its people, receiving all visitors with its arms open.