The monument officially became a sanctuary for Catholic worship on the same feast day in 2006. The chapel at the base of the statue offers Mass and Eucharistic adoration to the thousands of pilgrims and tourists who usually visit each year.
Architect Cristina Ventura is in charge of the Christ the Redeemer statue’s restoration this year. Her team will conduct a complete X-ray of the statue, which was constructed with thousands of small triangular hand-cut stones, to identify areas in most need of repair after exposure to the elements.
She told local media: “To be here is important, it is a very strong symbol. Christ the Redeemer embraces the Brazilian population so it is a responsibility, a great privilege, to be there.”
The statue took nine years to construct, from 1922 to 1931. A large heart is molded in the interior of the statue to signify the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
For its inauguration, Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the wireless telegraph and founder of Vatican Radio, was engaged to illuminate the statue remotely from Italy by the pulse of electromagnetic waves, according to ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian language news partner.
The idea of placing a religious monument on the top of the city’s Mount Corcovado was first proposed by a Catholic priest, Fr. Pedro Maria Boss, in the mid 19th century, but his appeal to Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, was not heeded.