Christ The Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro: History, Photos, And Why It's There

By | October 10, 2020

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Statue of Christ the Redeemer in clouds, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Paulo Fridman/Corbis via Getty Images)

There is much to love about the Christ the Redeemer statue found high above the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The colossal statue, which towers over the South American city with outstretched arms, has become a symbol of Rio de Janeiro and an icon of Christianity.

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A view of the Corcovado before the construction, 19th century. (Coleção Gilberto Ferrez/Instituto Moreira Salles/Wikimedia Commons)

Christ The Redeemer's Origin Story

The summit of Mount Corcovado, 2,310 above Rio de Janeiro, almost begs for a monument. In the 1850s, a priest named Pedro Maria Boss was the first to suggest a Christian monument to honor Isabel, the princess regent of Brazil, but things didn't start moving until 1921. At that time, the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro was concerned that the people of Brazil were suffering from a lack of faith, so they suggested an inspiring statue of Jesus Christ rather than Princess Isabel.

Brazilian president Epitacio Pessao signed off on the construction project, and several designers submitted their ideas. One engineer, Heitor de Silva Costa, originally proposed a statue of Jesus with a globe in one hand and a cross in the other, but he ultimately went with an Art Deco Jesus Christ with outstretched arms to welcome the people of Rio de Janeiro. At 98 feet tall atop a 28-foot pedestal, the Christ the Redeemer statue is the world's largest Art Deco sculpture.