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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid