A colossal, bronze Jesus Christ, cast in Armenia, has appeared in war-ravaged Syria “to save the world.”
Soaring higher than Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer, the statue stands 39 meters tall in the mountaintop, Byzantine-era Cherubim Monastery, lording it over the city of Saidnaya, 27 kilometers north of Damascus, Armenian news outlets reported. Some Russian outlets said that the statue is one meter shorter than its Brazilian counterpart.
From its vantage point above the sea, the statue overlooks an historic pilgrimage route from Istanbul to Jerusalem. The statue, created by Armenian sculptor Artush Papoian, was installed on October 14, when Orthodox Christians celebrate a commemoration of the Virgin Mary, whose icon is a chief draw for the monastery.
But the statue was not born of recent events in Syria. While Syria's ethnic Armenian population has been fleeing the country in droves -- including to Armenia itself, which has built a "New Aleppo" to accommodate the arrivals -- the project has been in the works since 2005, Russia's Komsomol'skaya Pravda reports.
Backed by the Russian government (which has a navy base on Syria's Mediterranean Sea coast, and, as we all know by now, takes an active interest in matters Syrian), along with the Russian Orthodox Church, the project, billed "I have come to save the world," was supposedly the brainchild of one Yuri Gavrilov, a 49-year-old Moscow native who runs an organization in London called the St. Paul and St. George Foundation.
“We hope that this sculptural composition brings peace and love to the hearts of people, and that our work will help restore peace and calm in this long-suffering region,” the Foundation’s director, Samir el-Gadban, told Komsomol'skaya Pravda.