Today’s story is about the illumination of the statue “Christ the Redeemer” in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
But the main protagonist is the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi. Born in 1824, Nobel Prize in Physics winner in 1909, he is often credited as the inventor of radio. In 1914 he became a Senator in Italy, in 1937 he died. As a tribute not only Italy held a state funeral for him, but all radio stations throughout the world observed two minutes of silence.
But what does this man have to do with the statue in Rio?
After nine years of construction, the largest Art Deco statue in the world was inaugurated on October 12, 1932. It was a massive event. Probably all 1.5 mio Cariocas (Rio locals) at that time, tourists, reporters and 250,000 pilgrims from all over the world gathered and as a highlight… guess who had the honor to turn on the lights? Exactly, Senator Marconi. He didn’t come in person, but the plan was that he would flash three short-wave wireless signals from Italy, which would contact the switch at the statue. Nice plan, just that it was raining a bit and wireless technology was still at its infancy. In the end workers in Rio lit the 5th largest statue of Jesus in the world.