In an interview in the last issue of the Brazilian weekly Veja the actor Paulo César Pereio spoke about his campaign to get Christ, the Redeemer, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, imploded. And all that solely because he thinks the statue is a blot to the landscape.
Paulo continues to say: “That statue is an improper disturbance of the landscape. The mountain on which it stands is of great beauty. Christ just disturbs the panoramic view. Why should we maintain such an idiotic puppet there at the top of the mountain?”
The actor (for the reader who never heard of Paulo César Pereio, here is his wiki-link) calls the election of the statue as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, absurd and confirms to have hired a publicity agency to gather signatures for his campaign.
Of course the reactions and comments were rife. “Christ, the Redeemer is homage to Jesus Christ, in other words a religious symbol for the majority of the Brazilian Christians and even for the “heathens”, it is one of the cultural and touristy attractions of Rio de Janeiro.”
The statue stands 39,6 meters (130 ft) high, weighs 700 tons, and is situated at the peak of the 700 m (2,296 ft) Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park, from which it oversees the city of Rio de Janeiro.
The idea to erect a large statue on top of the Corcovado dates from around 1850, but was brushed away in 1889, as Brazil became a republic, with laws separating church and state. The second proposal however, done in 1922, was successful.
The local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa made the first designs of the statue, while the visual artist Carlos Oswald did the final design of the monument, which was sculptured by Paul Landowski, a French sculptor of Polish origin.
A group of engineers and technicians studied Landowski’s plans and decided to use a reinforced concrete structure, which was designed by Albert Caquot.
The outer layers are made from soapstone, as it has sustainable qualities and is easy to carve.
Various historians take the view that the monument was a present from France to Brazil as compensation for the various French attempts to colonise parts of Brazil. This is not an unbelievable supposition as France always has been generous donating statues, among which New York’s Statue of Liberty from 1886.
Modernizing and Devotion go hand in hand
From 20 Jan 2003 on the “cariocas” and the tourists don’t need to climb anymore the 200 carved out steps, which led to the statue. From that day, St Sebastian’s Day, Rio’s patron saint, a set of elevators and escalators were set in motion.
An “invisible” construction
As everybody is used to have an unobstructed view of the statue from any angle and corner of the city, the architect Mauricio Prochnik designed a construction which followed the contours of the northern side of the mountain and be camouflaged by the trees. The design intended to minimize the impact of such a large-scale construction as elevators and escalators on the environment and the visual appearance. The complete construction is painted in a variety of grades of green, and special sun ray reflecting glass was installed. The only part visible is the steel construction, made from special anti-corrosive steel, on which the elevators, escalators and walkways rest.
The 7th of July 2007 Christ, the Redeemer was added to the list of Seven Wonders of the New World published by the in Switzerland based The New Open World Corporation. By the way, the title is not recognised by Unesco.
And now Christ, the Redeemer faces an implosion. But even before the plans could be executed the statue was subject to heated discussions, which divided the country in Catholics and Protestants (ha, the right word). Although it is probably without doubt, that many Protestants from around the world are visiting the statue, the first leaders of the Baptist Church started a controversy on religious principals.
The followers of the Baptist Churches released on 22 of March, 1923 an official note expressing their disgust about the planned construction of Christ, the Redeemer. The note stated, that the construction “will be a portentous prove of idolatry by the Church of Rome” and that it will be an offence to God. “The day this crime will be executed, all real Christians of Brazil should unite in a penance to ask God not to attribute this mortal sin, which is the sole responsibility of the Roman Catholic Church and the government leaders, to the whole of Brazil.” The note continues with “those who have this awkward idea to erect this monument of Christ, the Redeemer, do not have the intention to praise to Christ, but solely want to glorify the Roman Catholicism. ….. They, who pretend to praise to Christ, affront Him and do just that which He absolutely forbade – namely visualise Him in a statue.”
Without doubt Paulo César Pereio’s campaign to implode Christ, the Redeemer, will be supported by the Baptists. But forget it, as money always brings home the bacon, so will this tourist attraction, religiously controversial or not, stay where it is. Undisturbed and well cared for.
P.S. Please, don’t mistake this Christ, the Redeemer with the statue, with the same name, high in the Andes on the border of Argentina with Chile. That’s another statue and another story.