Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The original idea for a monument to Christ came from a group of Brazilians who, in the wake of World War One, feared an advancing tide of godlessness. Church and state had been separated when Brazil became a republic at the end of the previous century, and they saw the statue as a way of reclaiming Rio – then Brazil’s capital city – for Christianity.

The first proposal was for a bronze statue of Christ on Sugar Loaf - the giant lump of rock with a smooth, curved summit that rises out of the ocean at the entrance to Guanabara Bay. But it was soon decided that Corcovado (“hunch back”) - a peak in the forested hills behind the city - was a better location.

Da Silva Costa, whose design was chosen in February 1922, imagined the statue facing the rising sun: “The statue of the divine saviour shall be the first image to emerge from the obscurity in which the earth is plunged and to receive the salute of the star of the day which, after surrounding it with its radiant luminosity, shall build at sunset around its head a halo fit for the Man-God,” he wrote....

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