Saturday, January 13, 2007
Christ the Redeemer as a Sacred Place
The archbishop of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, Cardinal Eusébio Scheid, asked Brazilian Catholics and the Catholic Community as a whole to see the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro as a Sacred Place. The Brazilian Cardinal spoke during the celebration of the Statue's 75th anniversary on October 12. The Cardinal remembred the religious aspect of the effort to build a Christian monument that started back in 1888. Though the idea was not materialized then, citizens of Rio de Janeiro led by General Pedro Carolino Pinto de Almeida, through an organization called the "Catholic Circle" brought back the idea of building a monument of the Christ blessing the city of Rio de janeiro.
The population of Rio de Janeiro, according to the speech of Cardinal Scheid voted massively in order to choose the location for the statue. There were three mountain tops to choose from: the Santo Antônio Hill, the Sugar Loaf and the Corcovado - the hump-shaped mountain. The Corcovado was chosen. Over 20.000 people mostly women led by writer Laurita Lacerda signed a petition to the Brazilian President Epitácio Pessoa asking for permission to build the monument.
The Brazilian Cardinal and archbishop of Rio de Janeiro asked Christians to remember far more than the engineering and historical data when visiting the Christ. "It is necessary to remember its spiritual aspects and values. The tourist appeal is simply the result of its beauty, architectural simplicity and the beauty of our city", he said. Cardinal Scheid also asked people going to the Christ the Redeemer not only to see the beauty of the City but also to see the beauty of creation and he adds that it is impossible for Christians to go there without asking questions about our lives and acts.
In the case of Rio de Janeiro that despite its god-given natural beauty suffers today the consequences of centuries of human neglect like that what we can see from the top of the hill in the form of sadness, poverty and crime. The Cardinal spoke of
"pilgrimage" to the Mountain from where the Christ the Redeemer blesses the city and using a quote from the Bible he asked Catholics and visitors in general to remember
the words: "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground", Exodus 3:5 (New American Standard Bible).
To learn more about the Christ the Redeemer
Photo from BBC's Portuguese Service