While figures of the divine and the decorative abound in densely populated areas, rarely do you see honored artistry in the middle of nowhere. The Cristo degli Abissi (Christ of the Abyss) statue in San Fruttuoso, Italy, hopes to change that in some small way.
The bronze likeness of Jesus Christ was made by Guido Galletti. It was placed upon the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea as an honor to Dario Gonzatt, the first Italian to use scuba diving gear. It was installed 17 meters under the waves in August of 1954, where it stays to this day. When it was placed, the statue was dedicated to those who have died at sea.
Though Cristo degli Abissi has largely remained in the same place for more than half a century, it has been brought out for restoration, so that experts could address corrosion caused by the salty seawater. The statue was temporarily removed from the water in 2003, and undergoes regular underwater cleaning to manage the buildup of patina on the surface.
Similar statues have been placed underwater and aboveground all over the world, some as an homage to the original, others as mere tangential copycats. (One that can be found in Key Largo, Florida, was actually the third of its kind cast from the original Italian mold.) The original clay statue from which this first sculpture was cast is now in Ravenna, Italy’s National Museum of Underwater Activities.