La Paz, Bolivia, Feb 4, 2013 / 12:09 pm (CNA).- The largest statue of the Virgin Mary in the world, dedicated to Our Lady of Socavon, was inaugurated at a Feb. 1 ceremony in the city of Oruro, Bolivia.
Rolando Rocha, the lead sculptor for the project, told reporters that more than simply “a work of engineering and art,” the monument “is an act of faith that strengthens our traditions.”
Towering at 149 feet, the statue is located on a 12,000-foot mountain south of La Paz, the country’s second largest city. It stands 22 feet taller than the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The statue’s unveiling ceremony was attended by both Bolivian president Evo Morales and Oruro mayor Rossio Pimentel.
Our Lady of Socavon is the patroness of miners. The original statue is kept at the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Socavon in the city of Oruro.
The presentation of the $1.2 million statue also marked the beginning of Carnaval in Orugo. The city’s festival is the only Carnaval celebration that includes a dance in honor of the Virgin Mary.
As residents of Oruro prepared for the annual candlelight procession to the Shrine of Socavon, Bishop Cristobal Bialasik issued a letter inviting those along the procession route to decorate their homes with sacred images and to listen to the diocesan broadcast of the event.
The closing procession, which took place on the evening of Feb. 3, featured nearly 50 dancers making their way to the shrine, where they asked the Virgin Mary for her intercession.