Phil Smartt, Public Affairs Director for the Chattanooga Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presented a small replica of the Christus to John Wilson, owner and publisher of Chattanoogan.com.
In the early 1800s, Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish/Icelandic sculptor who spent most of his life in Rome, Italy, was commissioned to create statues of Christ and the 12 Apostles for the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, Denmark. His crowning piece was the Christus – a 19thcentury masterpiece considered to be “the most perfect replica of Christ in the world.” It is believed the Christus was completed in about 1821. The original remains in Copenhagen.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) adopted images and replicas of the Christus in the 1950s and commissioned Aldo Rebechi of Florence, Italy to reproduce the statue. The LDS Church prominently displays the 11-foot replica of the Christus on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It weighs approximaely 12,000 pounds.
Today, there are about 15 Christus statues used in displays by the LDS Church at visitor centers near LDS temples in Washington, DC; Laie, Hawaii; Mesa, Arizona; Los Angeles, California; Mexico City, Mexico; Hamilton, New Zealand; Paris, France, and at the LDS temple in Rome, Italy, to name a few locations.
At the LDS temple in Rome, Italy, it is said, “Bertal Thorvaldsen’s statues of Christus and the ancient 12 apostles are enjoying a homecoming of sorts…. Reproductions of the 13 works of art have been carved out of marble quarried in Carrara, Italy, the site of the marble used for the originals, with the modern replicas in position at the visitors’ center adjacent to the LDS Church’s Rome Italy Temple” (Deseret News, The story behind the statues in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center, March 30, 2017). A video of the magnificent work can be viewed at https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/new-mormon-temples-reflect-worldwide-growth.
The Christus is also displayed at the Hill Cumorah and in Independence, Missouri – locations important to LDS Church history. As LDS leaders explain, members of The Church of Jesus Christ do not worship before statues. But the LDS Church displays the Christus and many members have a replica in their homes “as an expression of their faith and belief in the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ” – who beckons all to come unto Him (Christushistory.com).
“We thought it only fitting that John Wilson be presented with a replica of the Christus for supporting religious organizations in the greater Chattanooga area by publishing their beliefs about God,” Phil Smartt said. “The replica is a small token of appreciation from the LDS community – which is especially appreciative to Chattanoogan.com for posting our messages about Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world – ‘the only name under heaven by which we can be saved’ (lds.org)."