Rio's Redeemer Statue Turns 80

Famous Landmark Will Welcome Pilgrims to Next WYD

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, OCT. 14, 2011 ( When young people gather in July 2013 for the next World Youth Day, they will have an octogenarian among them, so to speak. 

Christ the Redeemer, the 125-foot, 699-ton, statue that looks down on Rio de Janeiro from atop Corcovado Mountain has just  «celebrated» its 80th birthday.  

The famous statue officially became part of the Brazilian landscape on Oct. 12, 1931. Built by architect Heitor da Silva Costa and French/Polish sculptor Paul Landowski, the statue cost $250,000 in 1931 (estimated to be $3 million today). It was funded by donations from residents of what the mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, called «the world’s most beautiful city.» 

It was transported to Brazil from France in pieces and taken by rail to the top of the 2,330 foot hill where it now stands.

Paes said the statue and its well-recognized outstretched arms are «how we welcome those who come visit us.» 

In addition to the 2013 WYD, Rio will also host the 2016 Summer Olympics and the World Cup in 2014.

Rio locals and tourists are joining in the birthday celebration, holding concerts and vigils in honor of their local landmark, considered since 2007 a seventh Wonder of the Modern World.

Even Rio Archbishop Orani João Tempesta joined in, leading a special ceremony at the foot of the statue to commemorate the milestone.

At the statue’s feet is a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Apparition, which can accommodate some 100 visitors. Blessed John Paul II blessed Rio from the site in 1980, and Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit in 2013 for the events of the 27th World Youth Day.

Newly renovated in 2000, the site is ready for the countless young visitors who will no doubt utilize its internal escalators, walkways and elevators to ascend to what will likely be one of the best views a World Youth Day city has ever offered its pilgrim guests.

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