PARIS, France, (Zenit.org).- A 12-foot replica of the Cristo Redentor statue of Brazil has been touring Europe as preparations for next year’s World Youth Day (WYD) in Rio de Janeiro are under way.
The replica was presented Friday at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris as part of the “Cristo Redentor For All” exhibition. The event, which celebrates 80 years since the statue was erected, presents exhibitions on the history of the monument from its inception till the present.
The statue received a blessing from the auxiliary bishop of Paris in a Mass attended by several religious authorities from both France and Brazil. The replica has toured Madrid and the Vatican and is scheduled to make stops in Portugal, Canada, Japan and Mozambique. Each city will also receive a replica, which is meant as a symbol of peace and as a reminder of the upcoming World Youth Day.
Father Omar Raposo, rector of the Shrine of Christ the Redeemer and the director of logistics of the Rio 2013 Local Organizing Committee (LOC), has accompanied the replica during its European tour. In an interview with the Web site “Jovenes Conectados,” Fr. Raposo commented on the significance of the Cristo Redentor statue. “Christ is not only a receiver of all tourists and pilgrims, but with open arms goes to meet other cultures and countries, showing that Rio is open and welcoming,” he said.
The tour of the statue comes as registration for WYD in Rio de Janeiro was officially opened in Brazil last Tuesday. Over 4,000 youth confirmed their participation in the first 24 hours of the registration’s opening.
“To our delight, we are enrolling young people from the five continents,” said Sister Shaiane Machado, director of enrollment for WYD 2013. The first participants are young people from 28 countries divided into 220 groups of which 112 are Brazilian.
The very first to be registered, however, on the morning of Aug. 28 was Benedict XVI.
Archbishop Orani João Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro said that registration is an “important step in the realization of the event.”
“The World Day is an investment in the youth, for the construction of more humane values and greater solidarity to make a difference in society,” the archbishop said. “And the Church is called to remain united in this building.”