Christ of the Abyss

December 1, 2011 by

Sightseeing, Unforgettable Experiences

The Christ of the Abyss - photo courtesy of GergoBacsi via Flickr

For two thousand years people have made statues of Christ and venerated them. They have put them in churches, in small roadside shrines, and high up on hilltops. In northern Italy, they have put one under the sea.

Every year people flock to the small town of Portofino to spot celebrities but the real reason to come here is the underwater huge bronze statue of Christ, Il Cristo degli Abissi (Christ of the Abyss) protector of sailors and divers. The 8 ft (2.5 m) tall statue stands in 55 ft (17 m) deep water, his hands and face are raised towards the surface and the sky in a blessing of peace as he is visited daily by fish and occasionally by worshippers.

The sculpture was installed underwater in 1954 in memory of an Italian diver, Dario Gonzatti, a pioneer of SCUBA equipment, who died nearby. Every year, many divers pay homage to Gonzatti by diving here and the floating candles on the water in his memory. It’s one of 20 dive sites along this coast and you can join a dive to see it. In late July each year there is actually an underwater procession to lay a laurel wreath on Christ’s head.

-Philippa Burne

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