News / Europe

World's Tallest Jesus Statue Inaugurated in Poland

A local priest built what his town members claim is now the largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world in Swiebodzin, Poland.
A local priest built what his town members claim is now the largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world in Swiebodzin, Poland.

Multimedia

Audio

The world's tallest Jesus statue now reigns over a field in western Poland, on the outskirts of a small town with big hopes for tourism. But the statue reveals a lot about Polish Catholicism and the divisions within it.



The statue was completed last month, rising from a cabbage field. Measuring a towering 51 meters, it is a nearly 14 meters taller than the famous statue in Rio de Janeiro, and even beats the previous record-holder in Bolivia.

The setting may lack some of the grandeur of Rio's mountaintop - this Jesus stands across from the local Tesco supermarket. But residents in the town of Swiebodzin are no less proud of their statue. Dubbed "Christ the King", it was the dream of a local priest and was financed entirely through private local donations. But some people in Poland see the statue as being too ostentatious, or not representing the true spirit of Christianity.

During the statue's inauguration ceremony in late November, hundreds of pilgrims and curious onlookers descended on the town as a singing procession made its way down the street.

"It's beautiful, just beautiful," said one local man as he gazed at the statue, which stands on a small mound of earth and is topped with a golden crown.

Strong links

The link between the Catholic church and patriotism is strong in Poland, partly due to the Church's role in opposing communism. The country still has one of the highest church-going populations in Europe. In Swiebodzin, some people in the procession were carrying banners that read, "Jesus is the only king of Poland." One group was wearing red capes emblazoned with both a picture of Jesus and the Polish white eagle.

Another man wearing a cape says that he came because he is both a patriot and a believer, and he believes in what the church is doing for Poland.

Tourism boost

But other local residents see the giant statue as an opportunity to attract tourists to their town, which does not normally get many visitors.

A man who traveled from Germany just to see the statue, says he is not religious himself, but that he came out of curiosity and thinks there are others who will do the same.

Although Poland is an overwhelmingly Catholic country, Poles have been divided lately over the overt presence of religion in the public sphere. This debate came to a head last summer with a stand-off over a wooden cross outside the presidential palace in Warsaw.

Criticism

Swiebodzin's statue, which took five years to build, is not without its detractors. Some Poles see the whole project as ridiculous, while others simply think that such monuments do not represent the spirit of Christianity.

Tomasz Krolak, vice president of Poland's Catholic Information Agency, is one of them. He says that while he respects Swiebodzin's decision to build it, he doesn't think the statue has much to do with true Catholicism.

"I have a problem with this statue in Swiebodzin. I would like to point out that this idea - the monument in Swiebodzin - is not any central idea of the Catholic church in Poland,"" Krolak said. "The best way for the Christian community is to build monuments of Christ inside us, in our hearts, in our minds."

Main attraction

But for one young man from Swiebodzin, the issue is not so simple.

He says he is sure the money could have been better spent. "With that kind of money we could really have helped people," he says. He does think, though, that lots of people will come to see the statue, and it will be good for the local economy. "Plus," he says, "we will be famous."

Whether tourists will really flock to this small Polish town remains to be seen. But in the meantime, the locals are convinced that their giant Jesus in the cabbage field will finally put them on the map.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid