Underwater statue of Jesus

Underwater statue of Jesus

Statue of Christ, also known in Maltese as Kristu tal-Bahhara (Christ of the Sailors), is an underwater statue of Jesus Christ. It is located about half a kilometre off Qawra Point in north-eastern Malta. The statue was originally scuttled in 1990 near St. Paul’s Island, and was moved in 2000 next to MV Imperial Eagle wreck close to Qawra Reef at a depth of 35 m. This is a boat dive for experienced divers.

Statue of Christ is 3 metres tall and stands on white sand in a natural amphitheatre of rock. Christ's face is turned up towards the surface and the sailors above, and his arms are outstretched. An underwater valley leads from the statue to the bow of Imperial Eagle about 30 m away, and Statue of Christ is usually dived together with the wreck. There is also a natural rock arch in the reef wall, and outside of the arch, a large anchor dating back to the 1600s.

Other underwater statues in Malta are Statue of Our Lady (Madonna) in Cirkewwa, Crib nativity scene in Ghar Lapsi, and diving helmet in Wied iz-Zurrieq.

Kristu tal-Bahhara statue history

Kristu tal-Bahhara (Christ of the Sailors) statue was made by Maltese sculptor Alfred Camilleri Cauchi. The 3-metre-tall statue is made of concrete and fibreglass, to keep its form in cold, salty and deep water. Kristu tal-Bahhara is modelled on Christ of the Abyss (Cristo degli Abissi), an underwater bronze statue at San Fruttuoso near Genoa in Italy, and is one of its many copies in various locations around the world. Cauchi was commissioned to create it to commemorate Pope John Paul II’s first visit to Malta in 1990.

Statue of Jesus Christ was placed on the seabed on Saturday 26th May 1990 in presence of Pope John Paul II. The pope also blessed the statue – Kristu tal-Bahhara was the only statue of its kind to be blessed during his papacy. The statue was originally located off St. Paul’s Island near Mellieha in northeast Malta. Traditionally St. Paul’s Island is considered the place where Paul the Apostle shipwrecked and brought Christianity to Malta, making this a suitable position for the statue of Christ.

Kristu tal-Bahhara became a popular dive site. However, a decade later the visibility around the statue had markedly deteriorated, and the number of divers had also declined notably. Therefore, it was decided to relocate the statue of Christ, and on 17th May 2000 it was lifted up from the seabed and scuttled again off Qawra Point in an underwater marine park, near the wreck of Imperial Eagle that was scuttled a year earlier in the area. Kristu tal-Bahhara is now at 35 m depth a short distance away from the bow of the wreck.

For the 25th anniversary in 2015 the statue was professionally cleaned, and on Sunday 31st May 2015 in a ceremony the archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna re-blessed the statue. He also blessed a brass memorial plaque to mark the occasion, that was then fixed in place at the base of the statue by a team of divers.
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