Here’s a profound contrast of cultures.
At the same time the US was putting up skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building (1928-30) and the Empire State Building (1930-31) and carving the faces of Presidents onto Mount Rushmore (begun in 1927), Catholics in Brazil were erecting the majestic statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro.
Like me, you probably thought the statue in Rio was the largest image of Christ in the world.
Also like me, you would be wrong – by a long shot.
Admittedly, the Rio statue proudly held that distinction for over sixty years, but in the early ’90s it was pulled off its pedestal (pun intended) and is now the sixth tallest statue of Christ in the world.
The Rio statue just seems like the tallest because it gets the best press! People of a certain vintage will recall the fantastic TV ad for Pan Am that featured aerial footage of one of its sleek jetliners flying past the statue. (Note to Millennials: Pan Am was an airline.)
In any case, starting with the Rio statue, let’s work our way back from the number six to the number one tallest statue of Christ in the world and drink in an ocean of wonder at the deeply Christian cultures that proclaimed Christ in these massive forms of devotion.
(Measurements have to do with the actual height of the statue itself, not including the pedestal or structure upon which it stands. At the end of this article there will be a link to a gallery of photos of all these statues along with some amazing aerial footage of each.)
#6 – 99 feet tall – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Name: Christ the Redeemer
- Built: between 1922-31
- Pedestal height: 20 ft.
- Arm span: 92 ft.
- Construction: reinforced concrete and soapstone
- Style: art deco
The statue was built to withstand winds of up to 155 mph. It receives at least a dozen lightning strikes each year but was struck by major lightning in 2008 and 2014 damaging the hands and head of the statue. It attracts 2 million visitors per year.
#5 – 100 feet – Marilao, Bulacan, Philippines
- Name: The Divine Mercy
- Built: from 2016-2017
- Pedestal height: 50 ft. (the pedestal is a four-story building)
- Construction: concrete (presumed but information unavailable).
#4 – 102 feet – Roxas City, Capiz, Philippines – Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Name: Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Built: between 2011-15
- Pedestal height: 30 ft.
- Construction: reinforced concrete with hollow core
The raised hands of Jesus on this statue display the sacred Stigmata for the world to see. Amazingly, the statue was constructed by a seven-man team over a 3-year period.
#3 – 105 feet tall – Ðông Nam B?, Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam
- Name: Christ of Vung Tàu because it sits atop the 558 ft.-high Nho Mountain in the district of Vung Tàu
- Built: between 1974-94
- Pedestal height: 13 ft.
- Arm span: 60 ft.
- Construction: concrete with a granite shell
- Face: the face of Christ is distinctly Asian
The statue is accessible by 847 steps to the platform plus another 133-step staircase inside the statue to an open gallery. Visitors can walk along the extended arms. Vietnamese Catholics began this project perhaps as a response to the Communist takeover of their nation in the mid-seventies.
#2 – 108 feet tall – Swiebodzin, Western Poland
- Name: Christ the King
- Built: between 2006-2010
- Pedestal height (actually an embankment of stones): 54 ft.
- Arm span: 79 ft.
- Construction: concrete and fiberglass
On this statue, Christ wears a crown (not included in the height calculation) which is 9.8 ft. high and 11 ft. in diameter. The statue’s metric height is 33 meters, symbolizing the age of Christ.
#1 – 112 feet – Cochabamba, Bolivia
- Name: Cristo de la Concordia (the rough English translation is “Christ of Peace” because “Christ of Concord” makes it sound like he’s from Massachusetts!)
- Built: between 1987-1994
- Pedestal height: 20.5 ft.
- Arm span: 8 ft.
- Construction: concrete and steel
The impressive statue sits on a hill 869 ft. above the city of Cochabamba and a total of 9,317.59 ft. above sea level. It is accessible by cable car or by climbing 2,000 steps, if you’re so inclined. There are an additional 1,399 stairs lead to a viewing area inside the arms of the statue.
Congratulations are in order for the Christian peoples of these nations for their magnificent witness to Christ on such a colossal scale.
Proclaim Him from the Mountaintops
Perhaps we can speak of a kind of “arms race” (no pun intended) of statues of Christ throughout the world, which has only intensified in the past few decades and shows no signs of slowing down. The desire to proclaim Christ from the mountaintops continues.
For example, India has just inaugurated plans to build a 100-foot statue of Christ in the Archdiocese of Bangalore.
Word also has it that the reign of “Christ of Peace” in Bolivia as the tallest Christ statue may be coming to an end. It will face stiff competition from the City of Encantado, Brazil which is currently constructing a statue that will be 140 feet tall.
The gutsiest contender for the prize, however, will be another “Christ of Peace” statue. In 2019 the Mexican actor and fervent Catholic, Eduardo Verastegui, announced plans to build a gigantic statue of Christ in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Supposedly, it will measure 252 feet! Verastegui’s concept is to proclaim Christ in the area where most of the drug-trafficking-related deaths occur every year.
Christian Evangelization Continues
If there can be said to be any bad news related to all these fabulous Christ statues, it can only be this: Christians haven’t even come close to finishing the work of evangelizing the world according to Christ’s command in Matthew 28:19-20 to
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
If “competition in statues” can be said to be one small measure of religious civilizations’ dedication to their gods, Christianity lags far behind:
There are over 100 statues of Buddha and other pagan gods 100 ft. or higher throughout the world. The world’s tallest statue of Buddha is in Lushan, China, and it is 420 ft. tall! There are statues of Buddha over 300 ft. tall in China, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand. Our work of converting the world for Christ is far from over.
The song of the universal Church of Christ must be heard everywhere: Christ be praised in every place and announced from every mountain!
For Further Information
If you were surprised at the number of statues that are taller than Christ the Redeemer in Rio, you are in good company. Even more striking is the overall number of statues of Christ around the world that are seventy feet in height or higher.
My website Sacred Windows features an article “Fierce International Competition for Christ Statues” with an amazing gallery of pictures of 25 gigantic Christ statues, the bulk of which are in Latin America. (Make sure you read to the end for a “surprise” statue.)
And if you were wondering what kinds of statues of Christ we have here in the United States, wonder no more. At the end of the same article you can view and download a survey of the many famous religious and secular statues throughout our country. Enjoy the survey and feel free to share it with others.