Brazil - Santa Cruz

In Santa Cruz, a 56 meter high homage.

Saint Rita of Cascia, since last Sunday, the day of the solemn inauguration, has been dominating the hill of Santa Cruz of Rio Grande do Norte, in the easternmost part of immense Brazil. Blocks of cement fifty-six meters high, just one less than the Statue of Liberty and no less than 18 more than the Christ the Redeemer of Corcovado, respectively the most famous symbols of New York and Rio de Janeiro.

Saint Rita has beaten all records in a second and become the highest Catholic religious statue in the world. In reality, it took almost ten years to plan and mount it, piece by piece, on high ground that was leveled specifically for this purpose, and piles and piles of “reales”, the Brazilian currency. At the current rate of exchange, the cost has been estimated at about 2,400,000 Euros. A sum, moreover, which has an unimaginable purchasing power in Brazil by European parameters.

Now our cement Rita will become like the colossus of Rhodes: a beacon. Or, even better, a pole of attraction that will make the light of faith shine. In Umbria, in the meantime, the news took everyone by surprise.  Not even the mayor of Cascia, Gino Emili, was aware that an image of this kind was being inaugurated in Brazil. Emili, like all the Cascians, was astonished: Cascia has been looking for financing for years to make a worthy statue to dedicate to the saint, but the money has never been found.

But Cascia surely does not need a statue, great or small, of its saint. Rita of Cascia and Cascia with its Rita are an inseparable pair known all over the world regardless of the images of the past, present and future. The thousands upon thousands of pilgrims demonstrate this who crowd the Saint of the Impossible Umbrian places every year.  And this is confirmed even by the colossal statue that has just been inaugurated in an unknown (until last Sunday) city of Brazil.

With regard to Brazil, we are certain that Saint Rita would have been happier if those piles of “reales” had been spent to help the children in the favelas or those dying of hunger inside, outside and on the margins of the Amazon forest.

In fact, Brazil may well be the place on earth where the largest Catholic religious statue in the world stands, but it is in any case a State where poverty continues to afflict 40% of its population, which is today estimated to be 198,790,931 residents. (By Sergio Casagrande, Chief Editor “Corriere dell’Umbria”)



Testimony also published in No. 1-2010 of From the Bees to the Roses.