They say that God is everywhere, but the last thing you probably would expect to find while snorkeling in Key Largo's coral reefs is Jesus. Literally, a larger-than-life statue of the Son of God, tucked away among the grass and rocks of the reef. The statue, known as the Christ of the Deep or the Christ of the Abyss, has been guarding the delicate and beautiful coral reefs of John Pennekamp State Park since the 1960s.
The statue in Florida isn't the only Christ of the Deep-- it isn't even the original! In 1954, Italian diver Duilio Marcante had the idea to cast a bronze statue of Jesus to place in the water near where Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian to use scuba gear, died. Sculptor Guido Galleti helped him cast and sink the statue, where it remained until 2003, when it underwent some maintenance and cleaning, since it was missing a hand and was suffering from corrosion-- it was replaced in 2004. The original clay mold was discovered in 1993 after being lost for many years-- it's on display in a museum that's located on dry land, for the non-scuba trained among us to visit.
The second Christ of the Deep was donated to the country of Grenada by the navy of Genoa to thank the country for helping to rescue the crew of an Italian ship, the Bianca C, that caught fire while docked in Grenada. That statue was sunk just off the coast of St. George's in 1961.In 1962, the Underwater Society of America was given a Christ of the Deep as well. It was on display at Chicago's Navy Pier for a little bit, and then it was sent to Florida to be sunk in the reef. You can spot it while snorkeling in the reef, or get more up close to it by scuba diving down-- just make sure not to touch it, no matter how tempting it may be, because that can seriously hurt the fragile coral that the statue has supported. Otherwise, enjoy snorkeling through the holy waters!
Here are some other awesome places to get soaked in Florida!
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