FaithWorld

Giant Jesus statue rises above Polish countryside

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A statue of Jesus Christ that its builders say will be the largest in the world is fast rising from a Polish cabbage field and local officials hope it will become a beacon for tourists. The builders expect to attach the arms, head and crown to the robed torso in coming days, weather and cranes permitting, completing a project conceived by local Catholic priest Sylwester Zawadzki and paid for by private donations.

Standing on an artificial mound, the plaster and fiber glass statue will stand some 52 meters (57 yards) when completed, taller than the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer with outstretched arms that gazes over Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Polish officials say.

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“I’m happy because this project will bring publicity to our town, not only in Poland but also from the global media. Other countries are showing a lot of interest,” said Dariusz Bekisz, mayor of Swiebodzin, a town of about 21,000 people in western Poland some 100 km (60 miles) from the German border.

“The priest, Father Zawadzki, is a man of action who always, throughout his life, has built and created… In the future we’re going to have to think about bringing the carnival to Swiebodzin too, just as in Rio,” he joked.

Read the full story by Ewa Rejzler and Sam Harcourt here.

jesus 3 (Photos: Jesus statue under construction in Swiebodzin, 4 Nov 2010/Kacper Pempel)

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Peruvian faithful pay homage to Lord of Miracles

peru (Photo: The “Lord of the Miracles” painting during a procession in Lima October 18, 2010/Enrique Castro-Mendivil)

Thousands of worshippers dressed in purple robes paraded a revered icon through Peru’s capital this week in a tradition dating from 1687 when a mural depicting the same image of Jesus escaped unscathed in a powerful earthquake.

The procession of the Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles), a mural picturing a dark-skinned Christ that is said to have been painted in a shrine by an Angolan slave, has drawn crowds of Roman Catholic devotees for centuries.

The icon is a copy of the mural, which is revered for its powers to cure the sick and protect against tremors in the Andean country. Originally worshipped by Afro-Peruvians, the Señor de los Milagros has become Peru’s best-known icon and has inspired worshipers around the world.

from Fan Fare:

Hollywood and religion. Double standards, or fair game for satire?

Should all religions be taboo when it comes to comedy and satire?

Comedy Central -- the same TV network that managed to both anger and bow to Muslim sensibilities in April by airing and later censoring a "South Park" episode portraying the  Prophet Mohammad -- is now at the center of a pre-ejesus funmptive storm over plans to develop a comedy show about Jesus.

A new coalition of family and religious groups Citizens Against Religious Bigotry has called on Comedy Central not to air the animated series "JC" and asked advertisers to refuse to sponsor it.

The  show,  billed as being about Jesus trying to live as a regular guy in New York City,  is still in the development stage,  is not on the air yet, and has not yet been given a green light by the network.

Cyprus Maronites reviving language link to Jesus

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Maronite Sunday mass in Kormakitis, 21 May 2002/Ayla Yackley

As the archbishop walks down the church aisle a melodic hymn rises from the congregation in an ancient tongue that Jesus would have recognized. The Aramaic language of the earliest Christians lives on in the church services of a tiny village on the Turkish Cypriot side of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where a hybrid dialect of Aramaic is commonly spoken by just 1,000 people who are striving to keep it alive.

Maronites from the village of Kormakitis, on a sun-baked peninsula in northwestern Cyprus, have for centuries used a unique language to communicate now codified by experts as Cypriot Maronite Arabic, or CMA.  Rooted in Aramaic, CMA evolved with influences from Arabic, Latin, Turkish and Greek.

Locals admit that not many in the congregation understand the meaning of the words in the Syriac-Aramaic hymns they were taught from infancy.  Like their own CMA language, it has been passed down to them phonetically. But in an attempt to boost dwindling numbers of people using CMA, an alphabet was established three years ago.

Visitors banned from Kashmir shrine some claim is tomb of Jesus

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A Kashmiri Muslim woman prays at the Rozabal Shrine in Srinagar on April 22, 2010/Danish Ismail

Who is buried at a small shrine in Kashmir? Jesus or two medieval Muslim scholars?

Renewed debate over whose remains are actually in the Rozabal shrine, which attracts hundreds of tourists to the capital of lndia’s only Muslim-dominated region, has led caretakers to close it to visitors after allowing access for several years.

“Last Supper” paintings show how food portions grew over millenium

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci

We’ve been overeating our way through ever-larger portions over the past 1,000 years, a U.S. study revealed after studying more than 50 paintings of the Biblical Last Supper.

The study, by a Cornell University professor and his brother who is a Presbyterian minister and a religious studies professor, showed that the sizes of the portions and plates in the artworks, which were painted over the past millennium, have gradually grown by between 23 and 69 percent.

“We think that as art imitates life, these changes have been reflected in paintings of history’s most famous dinner,” said Brian Wansink, author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” said in a statement.

Pope in Nazareth restates Catholic family values

nazareth-mass (Photo: Catholics attend pope’s Mass in Nazareth, 14 May 2009/Gil Cohen Magen)

After several days when the location of a speech sometimes clashed with the message he wanted to send, Pope Benedict must have been relieved to visit Nazareth today. The town where Jesus grew up lies in Israel proper, in the north of the country, and not in the political minefield of the West Bank that Benedict visited yesterday to see Bethlehem. In the town of the Holy Family, he was able to defend traditional Catholic family values without having to consider issues such as Palestinian statehood or apologies for the Holocaust. As he put it:

“All of us need… to return to Nazareth, to contemplate ever anew the silence and love of the Holy Family, the model of all Christian family life. Here, in the example of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, we come to appreciate even more fully the sacredness of the family, which in God’s plan is based on the lifelong fidelity of a man and a woman consecrated by the marriage covenant and accepting of God’s gift of new life. How much the men and women of our time need to reappropriate this fundamental truth, which stands at the foundation of society, and how important is the witness of married couples for the formation of sound consciences and the building of a civilization of love!”

Of course, this is just as political as the other questions he’s dealt with on this visit, as the growing acceptance of gay marriage at the state level in the United States shows, but it’s on a different level. The issue isn’t the same in Israel, because the the Chief Rabbinate oversees marriages here and rules out gay marriage. The same goes for civil unions. But colleagues in our Jerusalem bureau tell me that times are changing here as well. Israeli social services now often recognise a long-standing gay relationship as similar to common law marriage and extend benefits to same-sex partners.

Jordan amasses evidence for claiming Jesus baptism site

bethany-pool-2 (Photo: Bethany baptismal pool with ruins of ancient basilicas in rear, a staircase to the water and, at right, two of the four massive pillars that used to hold a church above the baptism site, 6 May 2009/Tom Heneghan)

In John’s Gospel, verse 1:28, it says that John the Baptist used to baptise people in “Bethany beyond the Jordan” and Jesus went there for his own baptism. Seen from the perspective of Jerusalem, “beyond the Jordan” means on the river’s east bank, in present-day Jordan. Those words were added to distinguish that Bethany from the village near Jerusalem where Jesus was said to have raised Lazarus from the dead. Despite that, pilgrims have long visited a spot on the river’s west bank, now in an Israeli military zone in the Palestinian territories, and considered it the true site where Jesus was baptised.

bethany-flagFor about a decade or so, Jordan has been contesting that claim with excavations at a site on the river’s east bank that it argues must be the real place. Following John’s Gospel (the others only speak of the river itself) and descriptions from pilgrims dating back to the fourth to twelfth centuries, Jordanian archeologists have uncovered ruins of five ancient churches and a wide array of other remains and artifacts pointing to the area’s use as a pilgrimage site. (Photo: Israeli flag on west bank across Jordan River and Greek Orthodox church on the east bank Bethany site, 6 May 2009//Jamal Saidi)

Pope John Paul’s visit to Bethany in 2000 was a coup for Jordan, which is keen to establish its site as a major centre for Christian pilgrims. But he also slipped in a quick visit to Qasr al Yahud, the west bank site across the river, to avoid any impression of partiality. Pope Benedict doesn’t seem to have the same concern — he’s coming to Bethany only and not planning any stop at the rival site. See our news story on this here.

from Raw Japan:

Jesus Christ Superstar meets kabuki

When I was 14, my best friend and I were obsessed with the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar", and we played the album until we had it memorised.

When I recently saw an ad for a "Japonesque Version" performed by Gekidan Shiki, one of Japan's best-known theatre groups, with the entire cast in the white foundation and flaring makeup lines of traditional kabuki theatre, I knew I had to go.

What I found was a powerful, if sometimes disconcerting, blend of Japan and Jerusalem.

Holier than thou? Rio’s Christ statue has rival

A little-known Brazilian farming town with sugar cane wealth is set to upstage Rio de Janeiro by erecting a statue of Christ this year that will eclipse its famous equivalent atop Rio’s Corcovado mountain.

The Christ statue in Sertaozinho, northwest of Sao Paulo city, will be 187 feet (57 meters) tall when perched on its 128 foot (39-metre) pedestal. (Photo: Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, 5 June 2005/Bruno Domingos)

Here’s our story about it and the full Folha de Sao Paulo report on the statue (in Portuguese).