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article imageThe Cross of the Third Millennium and its life-size ‘Via Crucis’ Special

By Igor I. Solar     Jul 17, 2013 in World
Coquimbo - The Cross of the Third Millennium of Coquimbo, Chile, is the largest religious monument in South America. It was built for the Jubilee of the Year 2000 of the Catholic Church. It has a high-tech bell tower and a Way of Sorrows with life-size sculptures.
Catholicism in Chile began with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in South America who, by the faith of the cross or the strength of the sword, evangelized the indigenous people from the Atacama Desert to the Patagonia.
The religious traditions of the coastal fishermen and the colorful Marian cults of the inhabitants of the Andean regions have been maintained and developed in Chile from its beginnings in the fifteenth century to recent times and were reinforced by the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1987, during the military regime of Augusto Pinochet. The city of Coquimbo, in the north-central region of Chile, was among the places chosen by John Paul II during his visit to Chile.
The large cross was built on rock at the summit of  Cerro El Vigía  (Lookout Hill). The hill overlo...
The large cross was built on rock at the summit of "Cerro El Vigía" (Lookout Hill). The hill overlooking Coquimbo Bay has historically been home for the city’s poorest residents.
The great cross is made up of three columns that emerge from an equilateral triangle representing th...
The great cross is made up of three columns that emerge from an equilateral triangle representing the Holy Trinity. The structure is 93 meters tall and the arms measure 40 meters. The central column contains an elevator that brings visitors to the 40-meter-high arms where there are large windows allowing a 360-degree view around the cross.
At the base of the cross there is a museum and a prayer chapel with an altar whose facade has a larg...
At the base of the cross there is a museum and a prayer chapel with an altar whose facade has a large embossed brass image of "The Last Supper".
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the...
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the port of Coquimbo, Chile.
Coquimbo is a port of 202,000 inhabitants that had its beginnings as the home and fishing place of the indigenous Diaguita and Chango tribes of northern Chile. Under Spanish rule, the land and the bounties of the sea became the property and inheritance of noble envoys of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Some of the land was also transferred to the Church for the establishment of convents.
The port of Coquimbo grew slowly under Spanish rule. It was destroyed by English pirates and privateers in the 16th and 17th centuries, and following the development of mining and the arrival of the railroad in the 19th century, it became one of the main ports of the northern Chilean coast.
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the...
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the port of Coquimbo, Chile.
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the...
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the port of Coquimbo, Chile.
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the...
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the port of Coquimbo, Chile. Station IX - Jesus falls the third time.
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the...
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the port of Coquimbo, Chile. Station V - Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross
In the 90s, the civic authorities of Coquimbo came up with the idea of building a monument to commemorate the Jubilee of Year 2000 of the Catholic Church, celebrating 2000 years since the birth of Christ, and the introduction of the Church into the third millennium. The project, appropriately called "The Cross of the Third Millennium," gained great support from local church authorities and the Vatican.
The site chosen for the construction of the structure was the summit of Cerro El Vigía (Lookout Hill), located at 157 meters above sea level. The hill overlooking Coquimbo Bay has historically been home for the city’s poorest residents. With funding from the community, businesses and the support of local and national political and religious authorities, the construction of the structural work of the impressive cross was completed in a record period of 10 months, in May 2000.
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the...
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the port of Coquimbo, Chile.
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the...
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the port of Coquimbo, Chile. Station X - Jesus' clothes are taken away.
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the...
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the port of Coquimbo, Chile.
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the...
Life-size bronze sculptures of The Stations of the Cross at the Cross of the Third Millennium in the port of Coquimbo, Chile.
In 2004, efforts began to construct a large Via Crucis comprising the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross with scenes extending from “Jesus is Condemned to Death" to "Jesus is Laid in the Tomb", plus a 15th station representing the “Resurrection of Jesus”. The complete set was made in bronze by Italian sculptors Giuseppe Alambrese and Pasquale Nava. It consists of 53 sculptures of human figures measuring from two to 2.2 meters in height plus eleven 3.5-meter-high crosses.
In 2006, the Coquimbo City Hall decided on the construction of a bell tower. Nine 1.5-meter-high bells were made by Rincker Bell Foundry in Sinn, Germany, and installed in May of 2013 in a 33-meter-tall tower next to the cross. The nine-bell system is computer-controlled and has 480 melodies in memory, including Chile’s national anthem.
The great cross is made up of three columns that emerge from an equilateral triangle representing the Holy Trinity. The structure is 93 meters tall and the arms measure 40 meters. The central column contains an elevator that brings visitors to the 40-meter-high arms where there are large windows allowing a 360-degree view around the cross.
At the base of the cross there is a museum and a prayer chapel with an altar whose facade has a large embossed brass image of "The Last Supper". On the second level there is a bronze statue, a replica of Michelangelo's Pietà, the famous work of art depicting the body of Jesus on the lap of Mary after the Crucifixion. On this level there is also a set of 10 cylindrical columns symbolizing the Ten Commandments. The 15 Stations of the Cross were installed in the gardens surrounding the giant cross and on the terraces of the second level.
The site chosen for the construction of the structure was the summit of Cerro El Vigía (Lookout Hil...
The site chosen for the construction of the structure was the summit of Cerro El Vigía (Lookout Hill), located at 157 meters above sea level. . On the left of the image is the bell tower with nine bells.
View of part of the city and the port of Coquimbo from the arms of the Cross of the Third Millennium...
View of part of the city and the port of Coquimbo from the arms of the Cross of the Third Millennium.
The Cross of the Third Millennium is the tallest religious monument in South America and the sequence of Stations of the Cross is the largest in the world. The monumental complex is motive of great devotion and pride for the people of the city of Coquimbo and has become a major tourist attraction for local and foreign visitors.
More about Coquimbo Chile, Cross of the Third Millennium, Way of the cross, catholic religion, Northern Chile
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