As it was defying time and even at 50 meters over the seal level, the biggest sculpture of the world made of white marble and sculptured by a woman is located in the bay of Havana city.
The majestic statue is located on the left at the entrance of the harbor between the ancient San Carlos Fortress and the Casablanca coastal town.
The many values of that monument, which is an iconic symbol of the Cuban capital city, make it a heritage for a compulsory preservation and related care.
In 2013, the National Commission of Monuments granted the local National 2013 Prize of Preservation to the team in charge of its refurbishing work.
However, it was perhaps destiny which made this impressive 20-meter tall statute on Jesus Christ to be inaugurated a few days before January 1st, 1959. The personal style of its artist named, Jilma Madera from Pinar del Rio province, broke many pre-established rules.
That originality had a lot to do with the related contest she had then won which was convened for that objective. Her Jesus Christ statue has not its arms wide opened like the one located on the Cordovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, the one from Angola or the one from Lisboa city in Portugal.
On December 25th, 1958, it was the inauguration date when the artist said:”I made it to be remembered and not to be worshiped as it is made of marble.”
As part of that sculpture of 320 tons of weight, it was used 600 Carrara-marble materials and 67 related pieces which were extracted from the quarry of an Italian region.
To observe each detail of the construction process, Jilma Madera travelled to Italy. The $ 200.000 Cuban pesos that she had won in the contest were use by her to buy the marble. She also took the wining sketch with her: A three-meter figure made of mixture of plaster.
It was only necessary a year of intense work, while she was directing the workers technically and artistically, so that that work could be finished.
After the work was blessed by the XII Pio Pope, it began its journey and the ship that took its pieces properly orderly, set sail to the local Marina harbor halfway through 1958.
Very responsible about her artistic work, she sent to Cuba the 67 pieces perfectly protected, she paid insurance for each of them and also brought a marble block to avoid any accident.
Some years later, she had to use to correct the damage caused by a lightning on the head of that sculpture.
The assembly of the sculpture started at the beginning of the month of September 1958 and it was needed a workforce of 17 men who were helped by a crane. It was inaugurated on December 25th, 1958, as explained previously.
The statue was placed over a three-meter deep base in which its center was made by using a metallic frame that continued to its bust where a steel girder was tied to its central structure with some steel screw shackles. Moreover, that empty space was filled with concrete, after the level and adjustment of each horizontal stratum was checked.
It was curious that after putting that work on the hill, it was not placed a lightning conductor, taking into account that the size and the ferrous frame of its center made that figure a really vulnerable spot.
The historians and the Press of the time narrated that it was then broadcast on the local TV news program from 1961 that a lightning had struck and perforated the head of Havana’s Jesus Christ statue as a consequence of the prolonged storms of that afternoon.
The impact reached its piece number 67, right on the back part of its head. Then Jilma Madera herself and the firemen from the local Corrales Street, who gave her a truck with a high staircase, went up and refurbished the damaged segment to prevent the rain from penetrating and rust its internal metallic frame, and even though she worked as fast as she could, the related refurbishing work took five months.
Next year, a second lightning struck the head of the statue again and a third one in 1986, so it was refurbished and a lightning conductor was placed on it.
In 2012, taking into account the danger of its collapse, a new and the deepest of refurbishing process of its type since its inauguration in 1958 seven days before the triumph of the Cuban Resolution, was carried out to the sculpture.
The figure on the Jesus Christ, with its white imagine, is observed stood up watching the city with one hand of its chest and the other on high by carrying out a blessing attitude. It could be watched from different spots of the city.
From there, it can be enjoyed one of the most beautiful and impressive sights of Havana city, especially its ancient section, as well as the passage of ships and little ferries transporting passengers to both sides of the bay.
The capital city below seems to be blessed by the Jesus Christ statue of Havana every day.
By José M Correa