The Rio de Janeiro Statue of the Christ

“Choice , not chance, determine destiny.” Anon

Now comes the treat when you spend time in Rio de Janeiro—a visit to the statue of Christ the Redeemer that is perched on Corcovado mountain overlooking the city. The statue of O Cristo Redentor stands with arms outstretched as if it were embracing the city. If you will pause for a moment and recall what we know about the Christ you may easily feel that those arms are stretched out to you in love and compassion.

The mountain of Corcovado on which the statue stands rises to 2,300 feet or 690 meters over the city, the Bay of Guanabara and the city’s beaches. The meaning of Corcovado is hunchback and refers to its shape that makes it a near impossibility for climbers. The statue itself stands 100 feet on a 20 foot pedestal and weighs 700 tons. At night powerful lights transform this statue into a protective presence.

The last time I visited this statue was with a work group that we had organized to help in the construction of one of our churches. We used taxis to climb the winding road up through the Tijuca forest and that gave us the opportunity to see butterflies and birds that made their home in the jungle. As we stood looking over the city and the Sugar Loaf mountain below, in the distance a helicopter took off from some place below us and rose to circle the statue; I am sure it’s payload was tourists who wanted a quick and different  view of the city and O Cristo.

There is another way to get to Christ the Redeemer and that is to take the cogwheel train built long ago in 1885. Trains leave the Cosme Velho station every thirty minutes for the 17 minute ascent through thick vegetation. And it will also give you a good view of the Ipanema and Leblon beaches.

Still there is a different way to get to the statue of Cristo Redentor and that is to come from the South, the opposite direction from downtown Rio. We lived in Meier so the easiest route was to take the car and head in the direction of the isolated beaches away from the city. We climbed then to the ridge of mountains with its Tijuca tropical forest and took the narrow road towards O Cristo. Travelling close to the ridge’s summit we wound through the trees till through the branches and leaves above us, we could see the stature. Along the way lookout points gave us views of beaches, the Lagoa de Freitas, the Jockey club and the Emperor’s Table. It is thought this high flat rock has been the landing site for extra-terrestrials but this bit of history is true–Brazil’s last emperor Pedro II took his court there for picnics.

My mind goes beyond the variety of ways to ascend Corcovado and in memory I stand facing the stature of O Cristo Redentor . I recall the strange routes that I took to finally bend my knee to the one I call Saviour. But I must ask myself whether or not I took those strange roads all by myself, or were there guardian angels sent by the Eternal Father to overshadow and to guide? As the years go by, my conviction is this that I never searched alone for roads or walked them by myself. The same is true I am sure for you as you climb and search. There is something deeply moving within when a person stands in the city of Rio and looks upwards to the Redeemer. Ah, but there is something more magnetic yet for the Christ himself is drawing you and me even now to bow in awe at His feet.

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