CHRIST THE REDEEMER OF THE ANDES

CHRIST THE REDEEMER OF THE ANDES

There have never been a war between Argentina and Chile, but in 1899 there was a dispute over the border between the two countries that became more serious. By Easter 1900 the armies of both countries were prepared to attack and war seemed inevitable.

However, during Holy Week that year, a priest preached in Buenos Aires on Easter day a sermon that was a passionate appeal for peace. The sermon became repeated throughout the country. Word of the sermon reached the bishops in Chile where they took up the same message. Priests and bishops from Christ andesboth countries set out on a preaching campaign for peace. During this time a well connected society lady in Argentina had the idea of erecting a statue in the Andes if peace were to prevail as a symbol of unity between the two nations and began to advocate for it.

As the campaign for peace progressed through the church's in both countries, at first there appeared to be little progress, but slowly the people in both countries were caught up in a great movement for peace. In the end, the two governments were forced by the will of the people to agree to submit the border dispute to the arbitration of King Edward VII of Britain.

As a result of the arbitration a treaty was finally agreed to setting the border. In addition, the countries promised to submit all future matters of dispute between them to arbitration. Both countries realized that the need for an army and guns was now irrelevant. The idea of erecting a statue to peace caught the enthusiasm of the people. The military in both countries melted their cannons down in order to cast a great bronze figure of Jesus. The resulting statue was taken by train as far as the railroad extended. It was then moved on carriages drawn by mules for the final steep rise to the top of the mountain. There it was dragged up with ropes by members of the military. On March 13, 1904, it was erected and unveiled where it stands today.

The monument is high in the Andes at 12,572 feet above sea level along the border between Argentina and Chile. The road to the statue is accessible only in summer months. The monument has a granite base 22 feet high and on this stands the bronze Christ which is 26 feet high. The cross extends 5 feet above that with two bronze tablets on the granite base. There are inscriptions in Spanish which read:

"Sooner shall these mountains crumble into dust than Argentines and Chileans break the piece to which they have pledged themselves at the feet of Christ the Redeemer."

On the other side there is a text which reads: "he is our peace who have made both one." The text is Ephesians 2:14.

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