Christ Redentor, in Portuguese, is a statue sculptured by the Frenchman Paul Landowski, and sits on the Corcovado Mountain overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Began in 1922, the monument took nine years to be completed and was unveiled in 1931. It stands 30m (98ft), excluding the 8m (26ft) pedestal, and measures 28m (92ft) from fingertip to fingertip. Weighing a little more than 635 metric tons, it is considered by many to be one of the great icons of Christianity and today it is a cultural icon for not only Rio de Janeiro, but form all Brazil.
Priest Pedro Maris Boss, first suggested the idea of creating a Christian monument and placing it atop Mt. Corcovado in the mid 1850’s. Boss’s original idea was to dedicate it to Princess Isabel, the daughter of the then Emperor of Brazil, Pedro II. The project received little support until 1920, until the Catholic organization, the Catholic Circle, made another proposal for a landmark to be created. The organization, motivated by what it termed the ‘Godlessness’ of society, organised ‘Semana do Monumento’ (Monument Week) in an attempt to collect both signatures in support of the project as well as donations to finance its construction.
After considering several designs, the figure of Christ the Redeemer with open arms, was chosen as it had become to many a symbol of peace of forgiveness. A local engineer. Heitor da Silva Costa was given to task of designing the monument and French sculptor, Paul Landowski of creating the head and hands. After months of studies, it was decided that reinforced concrete would be more suitable for building the structure with the outer layers being made of triangular soapstone tiles due to their longevity and ease of use.
The foundation stone was laid on April 4, 1922 to celebrate the centenary of Brazil’s independence from the Portugal. The structure took 9 years to construct and cost $250,000 U.S. dolllars ($3.7 million in 2020) and was formaly open on the 12th October 1931.
Lightning strikes and restoration
February 10, 2008 saw lightning strike the monument causing damage to its fingers, eyes and eyebrows. A massive restoration process was begun where much of the mortar was replaced, as well as several sections of the soapstone exterior and iron segments in the internal structure, lightning rods were repaired and the monument was waterproofed. Unfortunately, another lightning strike on January 17, 2014 dislodged one of the fingers on the right hand.