A HUGE statue of Jesus Christ was erected Saturday in a small Polish town, marking the end of a five-year project led by the local priest that has divided opinion throughout the country.
The statue in Swiebodzin, west of Poznan, stands on a 15.86-metre-high mound. It is 35.97m tall, topped by a 3.4m-tall crown of thorns, has an armspan of 24.07m, and weighs 362.87 tonnes.
Its creators claim it is marginally taller than the current record holder for a statue of Jesus, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer, which is 39.01m high. “The statue will be a total of 58 meters high from the base,” said Jan Zawadzki, the project’s foreman and brother of the priest.
Britain’s Angel of the North, by comparison, is a mere 19.8m tall, although it boasts a wingspan of 53.94m. Even the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the world, was said to be only 32.91m high.
In Swiebodzin, after delays earlier Saturday caused by strong winds, cranes first lifted the outstretched arms onto the body. Then the head, complete with gilded steel crown, was lowered onto the shoulders.
The priest, Sylwester Zawadzki, now retired, is said to have initially decided upon “a small garden sculpture,” but his ambitions grew into a project that he hoped would make his economically depressed village a magnet for Catholic pilgrims from across Poland.
Instead, he split the country. Some supported him, but others thought his project ridiculous, and many Catholics called for the statue to be abandoned.
The chief building inspector had a brick thrown through his car window and complications during construction, including a builder having his foot crushed when the head fell on it and the priest having a heart attack, were seen as signs of divine disapproval.