Giant Jesus statue rises above Polish countryside
By Ewa Rejzler and Sam Harcourt
SWIEBODZIN, Poland (Reuters Life!) - A statue of Jesus Christ that its builders say will be the largest in the world is fast rising from a Polish cabbage field and local officials hope it will become a beacon for tourists.
The builders expect to attach the arms, head and crown to the robed torso in coming days, weather and cranes permitting, completing a project conceived by local Catholic priest Sylwester Zawadzki and paid for by private donations.
Standing on an artificial mound, the plaster and fiber glass statue will stand some 52 meters (57 yards) when completed, taller than the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer with outstretched arms that gazes over Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Polish officials say.
The actual statue will measure 33 meters -- Zawadzki has said this reflects the fact that Jesus died at 33, according to Christian tradition -- and weigh 440 tonnes.
"I'm happy because this project will bring publicity to our town, not only in Poland but also from the global media. Other countries are showing a lot of interest," said Dariusz Bekisz, mayor of Swiebodzin, a town of about 21,000 people in western Poland some 100 km (60 miles) from the German border.
"More people will visit Swiebodzin and leave their money. Some will come for spiritual reasons, others out of curiosity," he said, adding no public money had been used in the project.
"The priest, Father Zawadzki, is a man of action who always, throughout his life, has built and created... In the future we're going to have to think about bringing the carnival to Swiebodzin too, just as in Rio," he joked.