Christ of the Abyss – An Underwater Depiction of the Saviour
Throughout history there have been an unbelievable number of statues of Jesus Christ erected all over the world. Worshippers feel encouraged by seeing the son of God depicted in stone, marble, and various metals. The original Christ of the Abyss statue is a bit different from many of the others viewed in and around the world’s holy places, and was made with this intention. Sculpted from bronze, it can be found immersed in the Mediterranean Sea off San Fruttuoso, and between Camogli and Portofino on the Italian Riviera. The statue was placed under the sea on August 22, 1954, and is located approximately 15m below sea level.
The Christ of the Abyss was made at the suggestion of Italian diver Duilio Marcante in honour of his friend, Dario Gonzatti, who died while diving on the same spot a few years before. Sculpted by Guido Galleti, the statue is about 2.5m tall and weighs 260kg without the foundation. It was designed and made with its arms raised in order to invite blessings, as well as to show reverence. When Marcante himself died, in 1985, a plaque was added at the base of the statue in his memory.
The bronze figure is a very popular tourist attraction and the village of San Fruttuoso organises dive tours for visitors to the area. The simplicity of the dive is welcoming as the statue is located near the bay and in very shallow water. In order to preserve the Christ of the Abyss, so that visitors can appreciate its beauty, it is regularly restored to prevent corrosion and fouling. Apart from an unfortunate incident, where one of the statue’s hands was hit off by an anchor (but has since been reattached) the statue has maintained its early appearance and tourists are able to observe its original beauty. Within close proximity is a sunken British ship from the Crimean war, so tours incorporate both attractions at the same time.
For visitors to the village who are not willing, or able, to make the dive but would still like to see the statue, there is a replica in the Church of San Fruttuoso. Other copies have been made and are displayed in various areas of the world, both in the water and on land. The original mould was used to create one in Grenada off St. George’s coast, as well as one in the United States 25ft off the coast of Key Largo in Florida. Starting in a small village, as a gesture to a friend’s memory, the Christ of the Abyss has extended into a worldwide object of great interest and both the original and the replicas are marvelled at daily.