Pope to get fly-by of Rio's famed Christ statue

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 05 2013 10:27 AM | Updated as of Jan 06 2013 12:56 AM

RIO DE JANEIRO - Pope Benedict XVI will get a good view of Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue when he flies by in a helicopter during a Catholic youth festival in July, a church official said Friday.

Organizers expect some two million young faithful to flock to the city for the Roman Catholic Church's next World Youth Day festivities to be held in the Brazilian city from July 23-28.

Rio's archbishop Orani Tempesta said he was not sure if the pontiff would visit the statue but "what is certain is that he'll take a helicopter tour around" the landmark monument on Corcovado mountain that dominates the city.

Inaugurated on October 12, 1931, the statue of Christ with arms outstretched was built and designed by Brazilian architect Heitor da Silva Costa. But it was a Frenchman of Polish descent who sculpted the statue's head and hands.

The site, which offers a panoramic view of the city, has become a must-see tourist destination. In 2012, a record 2.2 million people trekked to the site, which will be open 24 hours a day during the youth festival.

"We will organize groups of 25 to 30 youths from different nationalities who will pray at Corcovado for young people, for the world, for peace," Tempesta said.

The pope's arrival date has not been released.

It will be the second time the gathering has been held in Latin America, after the Buenos Aires event in 1987.

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