Rio's Iconic 'Christ the Redeemer' Statue Turns 80 Years Old

The city Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is getting ready to celebrate the 80th birthday of its iconic Christ the Redeemer statue with a party this Wednesday.

Father Omar Raposo, head of the site that was named a Catholic sanctuary in 2006, has promised that the celebration is to be "a big bash."

"Christ opens up his arms," he said, describing the massive, 125-foot white statue that sits atop Brazil's Corcovado Mountain and overlooks the country's second-largest city.

"He stands for life, love, hope. This monument is a very special shrine, with the horizon as its walls and the sky as its ceiling," Raposo said, according to The Independent Online.

The statue is a major tourist attraction that brings millions of people from all over the world to Brazil to marvel at its magnitude. The statue was designed by artist Carlos Oswald and local engineer Heitor da Silva, and it was sculpted by Paul Landowski of France. It took nine years to construct and was finally finished in 1931 and opened to the public on Oct. 12.

Since then, the statue has become particularly monumental to those of the Christian faith. Pope John Paul II visited the site in 1980, and the current pope, Benedict XVI, is expected visit the monument in 2013.

Raposo said the chapel beneath the statue is a popular site where many Christians wish to receive holy sacraments.

"We celebrate Mass everyday; we also have a lot of baptisms and a wedding every week," he said.