No, it isn’t the punch line of an insensitive joke. There actually is a giant statue of Jesus, his arms outstretched in a welcoming gesture, overlooking the plains in Swiebodzin, Poland. The massive stone head was lowered in place Saturday, November 6. According to Sky News, it is being billed as the tallest, biggest, highest statue of Jesus Christ in the world, even surpassing the famed massive Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
“I have never been as happy as I am today,” Reverend Sywester Zawadzki said. Zawadzki, 78, has worked to complete the statue for five years. He said he felt a calling to build the statue.
“This is the culmination of my life’s work as a priest,” the Reverend said. “I felt inspired to fulfil Jesus’ will, and today I give thanks to him for allowing me to fulfil his will.”
The mayor of Swiebodzin, Dariusz Bekisz, declared the towering white construct the tallest in the world. The statue measures 33 metres — for each year of Jesus’ life, says Zawadski — with a 3-metre gold crown. It stands on a 15 metre base. In total, the statue rises 51 metres above the Polish landscape.
The aforementioned Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio stands 39.6 metres high. Although probably the most famous Jesus Christ erection in the world, it falls short of the Cristo de la Concordia in Bolivia, which rises to 40.4 metres.
The completion of statue was delayed several times over the years. State officials halted its construction once, citing concerns over safety. A church official stopped work, skeptical of the statue as well. Work ground to a halt at another point when it was discovered that the crane being used to lift a part of the statue was strong enough to perform the task.
The massive structure is no joke to the people of Poland, either. It has been a point of controversy for the area. Many believed it too costly, that the money — (£870,000/$1.4 million) — would have been best spent on more practical things, like an elementary school. Others believe that the statue will bring tourists and extra money to the region. The statue’s construction has also been a point of contention between Poland’s Roman Catholic citizens and its growing secular citizenry.
The largest figure of Jesus Christ in the United States is the giant white Christ of the Ozarks statue in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It stands 20 metres high.
Another massive statue of Jesus, the King of Kings statue in Monroe, Ohio, which only displayed Jesus Christ from the waist up, stood 19 metres high until it burned to the ground in June after being struck by lightning. Affectionately known as “Big Butter Jesus” (because of its coloration), “Touchdown Jesus” (because of his arms reaching skyward), “Quicksand Jesus” (because the figure gave the appearance that Jesus was sinking and reaching for help), the Pastor Lawrence Bishop said that if the statue was rebuilt, stone would be considered instead of the styrofoam and fiberglas.
“Heavens Above: Giant Jesus Finally Finished,” News.Sky.com