- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2003

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue, welcoming visitors to this tropical city for more than 70 years, will soon be seen in a new light.

A French artist has been commissioned to bathe the mountaintop Christ in blue light, for two nights beginning today, to celebrate the statue’s 72nd anniversary tomorrow.

“It’s to celebrate this living symbol of the city, which embodies faith, openness, hospitality and peace,” the artist Agnes P. Winter said. “Blue is the color of peace.”

The artist said her project, which required the special permission of Rio’s archbishop, Eusebio Oscar Scheid, marks the second time anyone has been permitted to alter the statue’s appearance.

Overlooking Rio de Janeiro from atop Corcovado Mountain, the statue was bathed in yellow light during a visit by Pope John Paul II in 1980. More recently, the statue has been covered in scaffolding while restoration work was completed.

The statue was designed by Brazilian artist Carlos Oswald and French sculptor Paul Landowski. Its core is of concrete poured around a wire frame. Its exterior is a soapstone mosaic skin, giving the figure its depth and features.

Originally greenish in tint, the statue’s surface has gradually turned grey with the effects of pollution and, its greatest enemy, the salt sea air of Rio.

And how do residents feel about it turning blue?

Maria Conceicao de Sousa, 71, said she approved.

“Blue, white or green,” she said. “I don’t care. I think it’s beautiful.”

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