Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

 entry May 2008  photo update (bottom) May 2013
comparison to Christ of the Andes added July 2022
add to Maratea, bottom  July 2023

1. T
he Christ of Maratea
   (below) and   2. The Christ of the Andes


This is not in Naples and not even in Campania, but it’s close, and if you don’t know about it, you should. The last town in the Campania region of Italy as you move south along the beautiful Tyrrhenian coast and the mountains of the Cilento national park is Sapri. Just beyond, in the Basilicata region, is the town of Maratea; it is nestled on the hillside below Mt. San Biagio, overlooking the Gulf of Policastro. Overlooking Maratea, however, from the 640-meter (1900 ft.) height of Mt. San Biagio, itself, is a remarkable piece of sculpture —Christ the Redeemer (top right in the above photo).

In 1941 a simple large cross was put on the mountain as a war memorial. It stayed there for 20 years. In 1963 that cross was moved to near the old center of Maratea so that construction could begin on the statue of Christ. Count Stefano Rivetti di Valcervo proposed the statue and then sponsored the construction. The statue was designed by Bruno Innocenti (1906-1996)* of the Institute of Fine Arts in Florence. As an artist, Innocenti was a realist and known for his delicate renderings of the female form; thus, he was out of step with the great wave of the avant-garde in Europe and really out of step with the muscle-bound hulks of Fascist realism that surrounded him as a young man. Some of his work decorates theaters such as the Teatro Comunale in Florence and the Rome Opera. Most of his works were portable and are displayed indoors. The vast open-air stage in the mountains above Maratea is a glorious exception.

(photo credits: left, Ivanna Zhdyanska               right W.C. Henderson

*Bruno Innocenti (1906–1986) was an artist and educator, known for his sculptures. He was born in Florence. His father was a goldsmith and his mother a housewife. From 1920 to 1923, he attended the Porta Romana State Institute of Arts in Florence, and studied under Libero Andreotti. He did his Italian military service in Verona, and returned to Florence in 1926 to work as Andreotti's assistant. After Andreotti's death in 1933, Innocenti became Chairman of Sculpture at that same institute. He stayed until 1975. His work had earlier renown; "Portrait of  a young man", from the Gallery of Modern Art, Florence, was part  of the Italian display in the 1939 New York World's Fair. The sculpture of Christ of Maratea (or Christ Rising) is his lasting contribution to his art. He married in 1938. He and his wife, Elsie, had two children. He died in 1986 in Florence.

The statue is also called the Redeemer and was finished in 1965. it is concrete with a facing of white Carrera marble and stands 22 meters/72 feet high. By virtue of spectacular location, subject matter and size, the statue of the Redeemer in Maratea recalls the statue that “everyone knows” —Christ of the Andes. [see below]* Stylistically, however, there are differences —the different position of the arms and hands, for example. The Redeemer of the Andes is Christ with a Cross. It's lovely but different than the The Redeemer of Maratea with His arms upraised almost to a 45-degree angle; the palms are face up, and the figure itself is robed with one side of the bottom section set ahead of the other, as if the Redeemer were stepping forward. That is true to the original name of the work, as reported when Innocenti was working on it: Il Cristo risorgente —Christ Rising, meaning the moment of Resurrection. The Andean Christ is bearded; it is not somber but is more traditional; the Maratea statue is youthfully —“angelically” (according to my wife)— androgynous and joyful. The emotional difference is striking. The cross of the Andean statue, the symbol of Christianity, for whatever else, represents the pain, agony, and suffering of crucifixion. In the Christ of Maratea, there is no cross!  The suffering is gone. What remains is the Living Christ. You may accept that interpretation as you wish.

(May 2013) added photo directly above: The image is from a 1965 copy of Oggi magazine. It shows the sculptor Bruno Innocenti at work on the unfinished Christ the Redeemer (now known as Christ Rising, or The Christ of Maratea).

* below added July 2022

For comparison, here are some details of Christ of the Andes:

"Christ of the Andes" is technically called, "Christ the Redeemer of the Andes" (Spanish: Cristo Redentor de los Andes) is high in the main range of the Andes at 3,832 meters (12,572 ft) a.s.l. on the border between Argentina and Chile. The statue is by no means somber, nor was it meant to be. It was unveiled on 13 March 1904 to mark the peaceful end of the border dispute between the two countries. Engraved at the feet in Spanish are the words, "Sooner shall these mountains crumble into dust than Chileans and Argentinians break the peace which at the feet of Christ, the Redeemer, they have sworn to maintain." The 7-meter-high bronze statue was made by Buenos Aires sculptor Mateo Alonso. It is in the Cumbre del Bermejo pass, where José de San Martín crossed the Andes in 1817 to liberate Chile from Spanish colonial rule. The statue of Christ rests on a 6-meter-high granite pedestal designed by Molina Civit completed in 1904. Alonso, the original sculptor, directed the piecing together of the bronze statue. It was placed with Christ facing the line of the border, standing on a globe with South America prominent. His left hand supports a large cross and His right hand is raised in blessing.
                                                                                        photo credit Andy L. Stuardo

==============added July 2023===================

The most recent (July 19, 2023) discussion about the Christ of Maratea concerns a Protected Marine Area that would encompass the statue and the adjacent coastal waters of Maratea. The Environmental League of Maratea has been asking for such a "Maratea Coast Marine Protected Area" since the 1990s. So far, nothing has happened, according to the environmental umbrella organization, Goletta Verde (Green Schooner), active throughout Italy. Their logic seems flawless: if we clean up and protect our natural and man-made wealth we attract tourists. Tourists bring money. So what are they waiting for? I have no idea. But after all, "God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform." I modestly concede that this is way above my pay-grade.

Down a bit from the statue sits the basilica of San Biagio. It is beautifully placed. It goes back to the early 17th century and is seen as the leading church in the area. It is modestly decorated within and offers nothing spectacular. The union of statue plus basilica make this site the attraction it is.

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