High in the Andes mountains is an enormous statue of Christ known as El Cristo de los Andes (The Christ of the Andes). It sits right on the border dividing Argentina from Chile, and was built to commemorate the resolution of boundary questions that had more than once threatened peaceful relationships between the nations. As long as the statue stands the nations have pledged there will be peace between Argentina and Chile. And so “Christ of the Andes” stands 14,000 feet above sea level, with one hand holding a cross and the other hand held up as though providing a blessing.
Ironically, shortly after the statue was erected as a symbol of mutual peace, controversy and bitterness broke out, as the statue of Christ faced Argentina, and so had its back turned towards Chile. The tension was defused by a Chilean journalist who humorously concluded it was only right that the statue face this way, for “the people of Argentina need more watching over than the Chileans.”
The Christ of the Andes statue reminds us that Christ offers peace and reconciliation to those who are at war with God and to those at war with each other, and that in effect, we are all like the Argentinians, we all need Christ watching over us.
Sources: reported in The Catholic Encyclopaedia and Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992.