Inauguration of Christ the Redeemer, on the Corcovado


Inauguration of Christ the Redeemer

The Christ the Redeemer of Rio is a monumental statue located at the top of the Corcovado, one of the many hills of the city. Its aim was to celebrate the centenary of the independence of Brazil (obtained on September 7, 1822, to be celebrated in 1922). A project for the construction of the statue was therefore launched in 1921, but if the choice of the winner was quickly decided, the actual realization of the work was more complex.

Indeed, the winner, Heitor Da Silva Costa had planned to build a religious statue representing Christ, but it was physically virtually impossible to build with the techniques and materials of the time. He therefore sought partners who redesigned the statue, and others who actually built him. But all this took time, and 1922 was far away when Christ the Redeemer was finally ready to be inaugurated. We were on October 12, 1931.

It had been a week since the festivities had begun. During this week there were a large number of events related to Catholicism, such as the holding of a Catholic congress. Politically at that time the head of government was Getúlio Vargas, he had made a coup the previous year. It was he who came to Rio to inaugurate the statue, accompanied by Cardinal Dom Sebastião Leme who was the indefatigable promoter of the Christian faith in Brazil and the basis of the religious choice of the statue. These two personalities pronounced the consecration speech which was essentially a praise to the Catholic Church and put forward the will of evangelization of the Brazilian people as well as to increase the number of Catholics in the country.

One of the strongest words was that pronounced by the cardinal:

May this sacred image be the symbol of your place of life, of your protection, of your predilection, of your blessing which shines on Brazil and the Brazilians.

The ceremony was grand, the people were invited to participate in the inaugural day. Nearly 500 priests officiated that day and was one of the most active with regard to the Catholic Church for Brazil. The statue was blessed in the morning, when all the churches of the city had their bells ringing. The evening of the tens of thousands of Cariocas participated in a torch-lit retreat. On this occasion there were several very particular acts. Concerning France, the beatification of the small French Guy de Fontgalland, 11, died in 1925 diphtheria. A symbolic but strong act that was part of the spread of the evangelical message of the Church throughout the world. This young boy had a canonization trial in 1941 which ended in 1947 with a rejection, so he was never Saint.

The illumination

The inauguration of the monument provided an opportunity for an experiment that combined science and progress. It was the journalist Francisco de Assis Chateaubriand who proposed it. It consisted in launching the illumination of the very new statue of Christ the Redeemer from Naples, Italy. The principle was simple. The Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi triggered the illumination by sending a radio signal from Naples which was received in Dorchester, England. This station was to send it back to Rio, where a reception station was planned in the Jacarepaguá district.

Alas, when the operation was carried out, bad weather prevented the transmission of the signal which never arrived. The illumination was triggered manually from the monument.

See also:

History of Christ the Redeemer.

Description of Christ the Redeemer.

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