Saturday, June 26, 2010

Statue of Saint Rita of Cascia, Biggest Catholic Statue, Unveiled Today

Santa Cruz, Brazil, is in the international news today. If you know where to look:
"World's largest Catholic statue to be unveiled in Brazil"
Statue of St. Rita of CasciaEWTN News (June 25, 2010 )

"The world's largest Catholic statue will be unveiled on June 26 in the city of Santa Cruz in Brazil. The statue of St. Rita of Cascia towers 183 feet, which is 65 feet taller than the famous Christ the Redeemer statue that sits atop Rio de Janeiro...."
Like many Catholic Saints, St. Rita of Cascia has several aliases: Margarita of Cascia; Rita La Abogada de Imposibles; and Saint of the Impossible, which is sort of what La Abogada de Imposibles means, translated into English.

All those AKAs don't come from an effort to be sneaky: St. Rita of Cascia lived about five centuries back - and she's been known by people living in quite a few other places since then. As the centuries and millennia roll by, cultures, languages and customs involving people's names change. And, in the case of Saints, titles sometimes get added. (I found that list of Saing Rita of Cascia's at

'Anything You Can Build, We Can Build Bigger'

When my family learned that the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago is a copy of a French original - scaled up to twice the original's dimensions - I sang out "anything you can build, we can build bigger...," to the tune of "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better," from "Annie Get Your Gun."

Americans have been criticized for acting as if 'bigger is better:' sometimes with reason. Linking size and importance seems to be a fairly common human trait, though. Thousands of years ago, the Narmer Palette showed how important the Pharaoh was by making him really big. I'm getting off-topic.

But not by much.

I don't think that the folks in Santa Cruz, Brazil, are trying to say that Saint Rita of Cascia is 65 feet more important that Jesus - comparing the Santa Cruz and Rio de Janeiro statues. I do think that part of the message they're sending is that Saint Rita of Cascia is quite important to them.

Also a good way to attract tourists.

'They're Just in it for the Money'

I'll admit that there is no shortage of hucksters selling "Jesus junk:" cheaply-made, tacky, 'religious' pictures and doodads. There was a television commercial for a sparkly bit of jewelry with a lens you could look through - and see a Bible verse or something of the sort "miraculously" appear.

No wonder some folks assume that Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, is some kind of rip-off.

Happily, being able to distinguish between well-crafted art and tacky junk isn't vital to being a practicing Catholic. Yet another topic.

Back to Santa Cruz and Religious Tourism

I found a more detailed article covering Santa Cruz's new statue at
"Rio Grande do Norte inaugurates 56 meter statue of Saint Rita of Cascia
G1 (June 26, 2010)

"Santa is the patroness of the city of Santa Cruz, where the image is located.
Christ Redeemer is 38 meters high.

"A 56 meter (187 feet) imagine of Santa Rita of Cascia will be inaugurated on Saturday (26), in Santa Cruz, Rio Grande do Norte. She is the patron saint of the city. According to the Government of Rio Grande do Norte, the inauguration will include masses and public visitation throughout the weekend...."
According to the article, the Saint Rita complex will include an "auditorium for 225 people, a restaurant and chapel."

Will the food at that restaurant be particularly 'holy?' I don't know about that - and I found no hint that anyone's making a claim like that. I also have no problem with a place serving food being near a chapel, and auditorium, and a whacking great statue of St. Rita of Cascia.

Quite a few people will probably be visiting the place. Some of them will probably want to pray - hence the statue. Some of them will probably want to hear someone else talk about the statue, St. Rita, Santa Cruz, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, or maybe butterflies, for all I know - hence the auditorium. They'll all probably want to eat while they're in the area - which explains the restaurant.

Eating probably isn't what most people think of first, when they start listing spiritual or religious things: but it's an important part of our lives. Considering things like that loaves and fish incident, I can't see excluding feeding people from what can be done near a religious site.

Besides, it's good for the local economy.

Which may sound crass, commercial, and not 'spiritual' at all.

Money, the Love of Money, and a Link

If making a fast buck is all a person has in mind when putting up a statue of a saint, that's a problem. But making money by serving people who come to see the statue? It's a little complicated: but I don't necessarily have a problem with that. Yet again another topic. (February 4, 2010)

Saint Rita of Cascia: That's a BIG Statue

The G1 article had a better photo of the new statue:

The statue of Saint Rita of Cascia. (Image: Demis Roussos/Rio Grande do Norte administration)
(from Demis Roussos/Rio Grande do Norte administration, via G1, used w/o permission)

I think the statue looks much better without the scaffolding. That building at the bottom gives a better idea of the size of the sculpture, too.

Vaguely-related posts:
More, about St. Rita of Cascia
(links found at "Saints R," Theology Library, Spring Hill College):


Rosary said...

Wow! Saint Rita must be smiling in heaven :) With all her goodness and sacrifices, well-deserved!

Brian Gill said...


Indeed. :)

Not that size is everything - but that's one impressive statue. I didn't see photos of the auditorium, chapel - and restaurant - but my guess is that the're at least serviceable, too.

Kudos to the folks in Santa Cruz.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.