The city of Vladivostok, the largest city in far eastern Russia, would like to erect an enormous statue of Jesus Christ atop a hill that was once set aside for a monument to the Soviet communist leader, Vladimir Lenin. Although the construction has not yet been authorized by the Russian Orthodox Church, the prospect of a large statue of Christ overlooking the Pacific Ocean has many of the Russian faithful excited.
In 1972, Soviet officials ordered the construction of a 98-ft-tall bronze statue of Lenin to be placed on the site, with a second statue of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin planned for a neighboring hill. Difficulties with the planning, however, caused the projects to be postponed repeatedly until they were ultimately scrapped around 1990. Since then the hills have been left bare.
The designs for the Christ statue — published by Russian media outlets — show that it would stand 125 feet high, which is the same height as the Christ the Redeemer monument in Rio de Janeiro. The statue would actually rise higher than its Brazilian counterpart, as it would also stand atop a 98-ft-tall pedestal, bringing the total height up to 223 feet.
In an interview with Russia’s Govorit Moskva radio station, Gennady Tsurkov, the head of the Vyatsky Posad center, said the statue had been inspired by Iliy, an influential monk who is the spiritual adviser to Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“He really wants to put up a statue of Jesus Christ as a protector of our Russia from the east,” Tsurkov said. “He says, ‘we need to make it higher (than the statue in Rio).’”
Turkov went on to explain that the majority of funding for the project would come from private investors, but the total cost has yet to be evaluated. Oleg Kozhemyako, regional governor who presides over Vladivostok, added that a modest sized chapel, which could accommodate up to 30 faithful, is planned to be built within walking distance of the monument.
Religion News Service notes that online opinions of the project are overwhelmingly negative, with many people questioning whether the money would be better spent on state infrastructure. However, as the funds will come from private sources, it does not seem likely that the money would go to the state if the project were not undertaken.
The Vyatsky Posad’s website described the monument as a “symbol of the unity of the Russian people” that would “bless” ships leaving and arriving in the port city. This description was taken down quickly for reasons that remain a mystery. It is suspected that these faithful words were removed because the Orthodox Church has not yet approved of the project.