World's Tallest Statue of Christ to 'Protect' Peruvians

A 37-meter high concrete statue of Christ “with welcoming open arms,” planned secretly by the outgoing president of Peru and to be installed on top of a hill in the capital city of Lima on June 29, is being projected as a sign of “blessing and protection.”

The statue, christened as the Christ of the Pacific and similar to the Christ the Redeemer monument located on the Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, will be inaugurated on June 29 by President Alan Garcia, according to local news agency ANDINA.

President Alan Garcia, who lost the June 5 election to a Left-leaning politician Ollanta Humala but will stay until the new government is formed, wants Peruvians to “see the image and feel Christ’s protection and blessing,” the news agency reported.

Garcia said the initiative was partly funded by his own savings worth 100,000 Peruvian soles, or $37,000, and by the support of Brazilian entrepreneurs who are expected to come to Lima to attend the June 29 ceremony.

The president pointed out that the colossal sculpture, featuring a lighting system with 26 different colors that will light up the capital city’s coastline at night, was built in Brazil and shipped in pieces to Peru.

“The head of state confessed that this project has been a personal dream to give the city of Lima an image that blesses and protects Peru,” added the news agency. But his critics think the statue is being installed as Garcia’s personal legacy marking his relationship with Brazil.

Garcia’s plan, which he kept to himself until recently, has also angered local residents who fear the soaring monument will ruin the city’s skyline, Agence France Presse reported Monday.

Lima’s Mayor, Susana Villaran, is concerned about the location of the statue on the Morro Solar hill overlooking Lima’s bay, which forms a 12-mile cove along the city’s western edge. “I respect President Garcia, and I am a believer. But there is a thing called the integrity of the landscape of Lima’s bay,” AFP quoted her as saying.

Villaran also said the president should have consulted local authorities beforehand. However, Peru’s culture minister, Juan Ossio, told U.K.’s Guardian that it was a “surprise for the country.”

The statue will interfere with another historical site, Peruvian historian and archaeologist Guillermo Lumbreras told AFP. “For years the Morro Solar has been undergoing a series of projects as a historical park ... The hill is seen as a site where there was a battle in the war against Chile, and it should stay that way.”

The statue will be just one meter taller than the 36-meter high Christ statue in Swiebodzin, Poland, which was completed last November and is currently the world’s tallest.

Of the 29.5 million Peruvians, over 81 percent are Catholic, 12.5 percent are evangelical, 3.3 percent are of other denominations, and 2.9 percent are non-religious.