A town in Zacatecas has begun construction of the biggest statue of Jesus Christ in all of Mexico.
The municipality of Tabasco, located 128 kilometers south of the state capital, is building a 31-meter-tall Christ of Peace that will cost 13 million pesos (US $595,000) and is being funded by a mixture of municipal and state resources and remittances from citizens who work in foreign countries.
Construction of the statue will take a year, and when finished will be three meters taller than the Broken Christ in San José de Gracia, Aguascalientes, and seven meters taller than Christ King in Tijuana, Baja California.
Zacatecans have already embraced oversized religious imagery as a tourist attraction. In Zóquite, located in the municipality of Guadalupe, the parish priest commissioned a 6.5-meter baby Jesus weighing in at between 750 and 800 kilograms.
When the statue was installed last November, it was thought to be the largest baby Jesus in the world and inspired a series of memes, with denizens of the internet noting that it bore a striking resemblance to Genesis vocalist and drummer Phil Collins.
Tabasco mayor Saúl David Avelar said the idea for the statue arose about a year ago among constituents who like to “think big.” Immediately architects, landscapers, economic and legal advisers began working together to plan the construction.
Jalisco sculptor Miguel Romo Santini, who designed the Broken Christ in Aguascalientes, was hired to design the effigy, which will be constructed with wrought iron and built on a hectare of land overlooking the town of 17,000 from what is known locally as the Hill of Faith and Religion.
An esplanade is planned for the statue’s base, which will have a scenic outlook, a chapel and restrooms.
The statue itself will have a spiral staircase inside so visitors can actually enter the body and stop at one of four landings, which are designed to be areas of prayer and reflection.
The mayor estimates the total cost of the esplanade and statue will be 20 million pesos (US $97,394), but he predicts the Christ of Peace will pay for itself in no time, with tourism increasing fivefold once the statue is complete, generating 40 million pesos of revenue (US $1.8 million) annually.
Tabasco’s economy is based on remittances from abroad, agriculture, a candy factory and the largest dam in the state, El Chique.
“I hope that this Christ will inspire us to live in peace, and we can be builders of peace,” said the bishop of Zacatecas, Sigifredo Noriega Barceló, at the laying of the first stone last week.
The largest Jesus statue in the world is Christ the King in Świebodzin, Poland, which is 36 meters tall. Tabasco’s statue will be one meter taller than the 30-meter Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A 77-meter statue of Christ was planned for Tamaulipas in a project spearheaded by Mexican actor Eduardo Verástegui, but as of July the project had stalled, having been declared inviable as planned.
CORRECTION: Missing zeros made a significant change to the cost of the statue in the earlier version of this story. Its cost in US dollars is actually $595,000, not $595.