A statue of Jesus will be erected in Armenia
In Armenia, an initiative has been proposed to install a statue of Jesus Christ. This is an initiative of one of the country’s richest businessmen, the leader of the Prosperous Armenia party, former MP Gagik Tsarukyan.
The Armenian Apostolic Church does not approve of this idea. Its ministers believe that the establishment of the statue of Christ is contrary to the worship traditions of the Armenian Church.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that the government was in favor of the project. According to him, the statue of Jesus will increase the tourist interest of Armenia.
However, tourism experts do not share this view. They say the statue will not attract new tourists, and Mount Hatis, on which they will erect it, will no longer interest hikers.
The statue project has not yet been submitted to the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports. And the department demanded to stop construction work until the project is approved. In addition, the ministry said in a statement that there are historical monuments in this area and urges against taking any measures that could damage them.
Photos taken on the day the statue was founded, taken from Gagik Tsarukyan’s Facebook page
Tourism project at the cost of destruction of monuments?
The statue of Christ will be 33 meters high, which symbolizes the number of years he lived. It will be installed on a base of 44 meters. In addition, a museum will be built on top of Mount Hatis. It is reported that the Jesus statue and the museum will be ready to receive visitors in 3 years.
According to Gagik Tsarukyan, in order to facilitate the ascent to the mountain, a cable car will also be built for visitors.
There are statues of Jesus Christ in over 20 countries around the world – the most famous of all is located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Gagik Tsarukyan announced his intention to erect a statue of Jesus six months ago. At the same time, a layout contest was announced. At the beginning of May, the results are known. With the opinion of the special jury, the results of the SMS vote were taken into account, the project of the sculptor Armen Samvelyan won.
The start of construction was announced on July 9. The founding ceremony was also attended by Armenian Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan.
“This is truly a large-scale tourism project, perhaps the largest in Armenia. We are ready to do everything to make the project a reality as soon as possible,” he said.
The enthusiasm of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy is not shared by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports. The department finds the idea of a statue acceptable, but demands the cessation of construction work on this territory. The ministry said in a statement that one must first submit a construction project and receive a professional assessment. In addition, the ministry fears that the ancient monuments there will be damaged during construction.
There are about 20 monuments on the slopes of Mount Hatis. In 2019, during the research of the Armenian-Italian archaeological expedition, an ancient fortress from the Bronze and Iron Ages was discovered on the top of the mountain. It has not yet been entered on the list of monuments. However, according to current legislation, the newly discovered monument is also subject to protection – until it is included in the state list.
“The project violates the traditions of the church”
After the founding ceremony and the start of the construction of the statue of the Catholicosate of the Armenian Apostolic Church, it was reported that the attitude of the church towards the project has not changed.
A few months ago, the Supreme Spiritual Council discussed Gagik Tsarukyan’s initiative and decided against:
“The Church does not consider it acceptable to erect a statue of our Lord Jesus Christ, considering it incompatible with the centuries-old iconographic and liturgical tradition of the Armenian Church.”
According to tradition, the church only accepts the image of Christ according to the principle of khachkars, that is, stone crosses with the name “Amenaprkich” (All-Savior), it cannot be act as a bas-relief, but not a statue.
It is reported that the spiritual council discussed this issue with Gagik Tsarukyan, under whose patronage several churches were built in Armenia. Although church ministers highly appreciate Tsarukyan’s activities in building churches, the council, however, urged him “to refrain from projects that contradict church traditions.”
“Hiking enthusiasts will no longer be interested in the mountains”
Representatives of the tourism sector, experts and guides are outraged that the government has backed the statue project. The Armenian Association of Professional Guides appealed to the Prime Minister to stop “the implementation of an anti-national, anti-cultural, anti-natural and anti-aesthetic project”.
The association considers the installation of a statue of Jesus unacceptable and reprehensible, and from the point of view of tourism – inappropriate and destructive.
In response to the Prime Minister’s claim that the statue would increase tourist interest in Armenia, the organization presented its counter-arguments:
- “For many years, tourists getting acquainted with the history of the Armenian Apostolic Church have been told that according to its traditions there are no statuettes and statues depicting saints in Armenian churches. The installation of this statue contradicts existing ideas about the Armenian Church and the Armenian people.
- After the installation of the statue, Mount Hatis will acquire a “cult” significance, but will have nothing to do with our culture and traditions. At the same time, access for pedestrian circuits, hikes will be lost, the landscape, the ecosystem of Mount Hatis will be disturbed.
- In different parts of Mount Hatis there are about 20 historical and archaeological sites and monuments. What will happen to them as a result of large-scale construction work?
The guide association warns the government that tourism is not only beneficial, but also harmful. And these risks must be taken into account upstream.
“A tourist comes to see and feel real life. And how would it be natural for him to see a huge statue of Jesus on top of a mountain in a country where there are not even small statuettes in the churches? ask tourism representatives.
A statue on a volcano?
The 77-meter complex will be located on top of Mount Hatis, an extinct volcano in the Kotayk region of Armenia.
Sargis Hayroyan, a professor in the Department of Geology at Yerevan State University, in response to journalists’ concerns about this, said he did not see a problem from a geotechnical point of view. The scientist explained that on a basalt mountain, if the foundation of the structure is solid and precise design work is done, there will be no danger.
Opinions of Yerevan residents shared on social networks
“What is the point of this project, what will the statue bring to the country, in addition to satisfying Tsarukyan’s ambitions?”
“Let’s buy drones instead of this statue so that during the war we don’t have so many victims.”
“Tsarukyan can do whatever he wants with his money. Other oligarchs do nothing, they only buy houses and villas abroad. Even if he bought a gun now, they would still find something to complain about.
“We look forward to the completion of the project. It is very nice that another attraction appears in Armenia.
“From the beginning of the Bible until the end, God has not appreciated idols, and a statue is nothing but an idol of stone. Think before you do anything.
“Give this money to those in need or provide apartments for several dozen Karabakh families who have lost their homes.”
“I’m sure those who criticize the project now will be the first to run to take a selfie in front of the statue.”
“It’s pointless, tasteless and has nothing to do with Christianity. The endorsement of an incompetent, anti-national government doesn’t surprise me.
“You can get closer to Jesus with your heart and soul, not with a cable car.”