Rio’s statue of Redeemer seen by billions

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2016

One of the most famous statues of Jesus stands atop Corcovado Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Known as “Christ the Redeemer,” the statue is the fifth largest statue of Jesus in the world.

During coverage of the Summer Olympics, the landmark has been seen by billions of television / internet viewers. To grasp the size of the statue shown in the aerial footage of Rio, I searched for facts about “Christ the Redeemer.”

The statue stands 130 feet tall, or about the width of a football field. Corcovado Mountain rises 2,004 feet above sea level. The outstretched arms of “Christ the Redeemer” span 98 feet. There’s a small chapel at its base.

It’s made of reinforced concrete and sandstone. Construction began in 1922 and it was completed in 1931. It attracts two million visitors a year. The idea for the statue came from a Catholic priest. Though the design was created by a local designer, a French sculptor was commissioned to sculpt “Christ the Redeemer.”

Tour guides describe the statue’s left hand pointing to the north part of town. Christ, with his head slightly bowed, looks toward Sugarloaf Mountain. His right hand side points to the south toward the ocean side of Rio de Janeiro. “Christ the Redeemer” has been called a symbol of the city, a symbol of Brazil, and a symbol of peace.

One writer says the greatness of the statue come from the message it depicts. The open arms of Christ show that He loves everyone and He is ready to accept anyone who comes to Him. From a distance, the shape of “Christ the Redeemer” looks like a cross – a symbol of Christianity.

The statue reminds me of Jesus’ words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). That’s the Gospel or Good News we must share with others.

Timothy Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, has written, “The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued and that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time.”

The statue also reminds me of the words to a hymn written by Stuart Hamblen, “It is no secret what God can do. What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you. With arms wide open, He’ll pardon you. It is no secret what God can do.”

Come to Christ. Your Redeemer is waiting with open arms. No matter who you are or what you have done, there’s forgiveness because of His great love for you. Then, you can say like Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).


Jan White is an award winning religion columnist. She can be reached a