Move Over Rio; Polish Town Has Tallest Jesus Statue

For 70 years now, the "Christ the Redeemer" statue that towers over Rio de Janiero stood as the tallest Jesus statue in the world. No longer, however. The torch has been passed to a small town in Poland.

Or has it?

Over the weekend, the town of Swiebodzin put the finishing touches on its statue. The priest who created it said its stands 108 feet, or 33 meters -- one meter for every year that Jesus lived. That would place the statue short of Rio's, which is 125 feet.

But members of the construction team say when you include the mound on which it sits, as well as the crown, this statue is actually 167 feet tall.

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Either way, the white statue with outstretched arms and golden crown rising is massive, and certainly gives Rio's a run for its money.

Residents of Swiebodzin say it will put the town of 22,000 people on the map, and hope it becomes a mecca for Catholic pilgrims to bring in much-needed money to renovate historic buildings in the tiny town center.

The statue was paid for by donations that came in from as far away as Canada. 

On Saturday a crane lifted the arms and shoulders into place onto the statue, and later workers hoisted on the head, which is crowned with a golden king's crown, rather than the traditional crown of thorns. 

"I have never been as happy as I am today," Rev. Sylwester Zawadzki, the 78-year-old priest who created the statue, said. 

Zawadzki, known in town as "the builder priest" after also erecting two churches and other buildings, said he felt that he was called by Jesus to build the statue.

"This is the culmination of my life's work as a priest," he said. "I felt inspired to fulfill Jesus' will, and today I give thanks to him for allowing me to fulfill his will."


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