Cristo Redentor turns 90 years old with samba, cachaça and optimism with vaccination

Archive photo from March 2021 shows the sunrise in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro – AFP/Arquivos

The iconic Cristo Redentor, a registered trademark of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, turns 90 years old this Tuesday (12) since its inauguration, with celebrations that include a mass, the launch of a samba and a commemorative cachaça.

The Catholic celebration, originally scheduled for this Tuesday at the foot of the huge statue on Corcovado Hill, had to be transferred to the Metropolitan Cathedral, in downtown Rio, due to bad weather.

“We Cariocas have learned to look at the Redeemer, often covered in clouds, but we know that the image is there,” said the Archbishop of Rio, Dom Orani Tempesta, as he celebrated the mass, attended by the state governor, Claudio Castro, and by the mayor of the capital, Eduardo Paes.

“We are still at a time of pandemic, but with a look of optimism because of immunization. Thus, the tenebrous clouds of last year are decreasing”, added the archbishop.

More than 58% of Rio’s residents have already received the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine, which since the start of the pandemic has claimed 34,500 lives in the ‘Marvelous City’ and more than 600,000 across the country.

Located 710 meters above sea level, the concrete statue receives nearly two million visitors a year, but remained closed between March and August 2020 due to the health emergency.

On the occasion of its 90 years, it is undergoing a renovation to restore its coating, moisture infiltrations and prepare it for future climatic adversities.

For his birthday, samba singer Moacyr Luz composed “Alma carioca, Cristo Redentor”, a samba released last month and performed, among others, by Zeca Pagodinho, Maria Rita and Jorge Aragão, as well as by Omar Raposo, the charismatic priest in charge of the sanctuary of Christ the Redeemer.

It was his idea to launch the Redentor cachaça line, which bears the image of Christ on the label.

“It’s a way of valuing national products,” said Raposo to AFP. According to him, the statue’s religious symbology merges without contradictions with the carioca soul.

“There is faith in culture and there is a culture of faith. If we look at it, all the artistic heritage in the country always makes reference to our sacred dimension”, he argued.

The birth of Christ the Redeemer dates back to 1921, when the Catholic Church organized a competition to build a religious monument for the centenary of Brazil’s independence (1822).

The winner was Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, who dedicated ten years to the project. Brazilian plastic artist Carlos Oswald made the final drawing of the statue, executed by Frenchman Paul Landowski.

The monument was inaugurated on October 12, 1931. In 1973, it was declared a historic monument and in 2007, one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

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