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Priest, Pedro Maria suggested building a Christian monument on Mount Corcovado in the 1850s in honor of Princess Isabel, princess of Brazil and the daughter of Emperor Pedro II, however the project died due to lack of support.
In 1889 Spain became a republic, and since the church and state seperated, the idea of the statue was gone. The Catholic Circle of Rio made another try for a landmark statue on the mountain in 1920. The group organized an event called “”””Monument Week”””” to get donations and signatures to help the building of the statue. What motivated the organization was what they perceived as ‘Godlessness’ in the society at the time. The donations came mostly from Brazilian Catholics. The designs considered for the “”””Statue of the Christ”””” included a representation of the cross, a statue of Jesus with the earth in his hands, and a pedestal symbolizing the world. The statue of Christ the Redeemer with open arms, a symbol of peace, was chosen.
Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue. French sculptor Paul Landowski created the work. In 1922, Landowski “”””hired”””” fellow Parisian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida. Leonida’s portrayal of Christ’s face made him famous. A group of engineers and technicians studied Landowski’s submissions and thought building the structure with concrete instead of steel was more suitable for the cross-shaped statue. The outer layers are soapstone, chosen for its long-lasting qualities. Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931 and cost the equivalent of US$250,000 (equivalent to $3,400,000 in 2017) and the monument opened on October 12, 1931. During the opening ceremony, the statue was to be lit by a battery of floodlights turned on remotely by Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, stationed 5,700 miles (9,200 km) away in Rome but because of bad weather, the lights were activated on-site. In 2006, on the statue’s 75th anniversary, the archbishop of Rio, Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid, consecrated a chapel, named after Brazil’s patron saint under the statue, allowing Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings there.
Lightning struck the statue during a thunderstorm on February 10, 2008, causing some damage to the fingers, head and eyebrows. The Rio de Janeiro state government initiated a restoration effort to replace some of the outer soapstone layers and repair the lightning rods on the statue. Lightning damaged it again, on January 17, 2014, dislodging a finger on the right hand. In 2010, a massive restoration of the statue began. Work included cleaning, replacing the mortar and soapstone on the exterior, restoring iron in the internal structure, and waterproofing the monument. Vandals attacked the statue during renovation, spraying paint along the arm. Mayor Eduardo Paes called the act “”””a crime against the nation””””. The culprits later apologized and presented themselves to the police. In 2015 two Russian and Ukrainian urban explorers, Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov from Ontheroofs, climbed the statue with captured video footage and photos.
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