Last week, I asked you all for suggestions on a woman who was an exceptional peacemaker - someone who brought people together. Because, man, do we need that right now!
Thanks to Clare for sending me a wonderful suggestion! This week we celebrate Ángela Oliveira Cézar de Costa.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Argentina and Chile were coming close to armed conflict over a border dispute. The bishop of Cuyo, monsignor Marcelino del Carmen Benavente, promised to erect a statue of Christ the Redeemer to remind the parties of Christ's message of peace. The statue was subsequently made by Buenos Aires sculptor Mateo Alonso.
As the countries slipped closer to war, Ángela Oliveira Cézar de Costa, a well-connected society lady who led a Christian group, had the idea of taking the statue to the Andes as a symbol of unity between the two nations. She had particular cause for concern as her brother was an Argentine Army general preparing for conflict at the frontier. As a friend of the President of Argentina, Julio Roca, she was able to gain the interest of both countries. She would later be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In May 1902 there was a diplomatic breakthrough and Argentina and Chile came to peaceful agreement. The plan for the statue progressed and Oliveira Cézar de Costa and Bishop Benavente prepared to move the statue to the pass of Cumbre del Bermejo.
In 1904, the Christ was moved in pieces and carried up the mountains by mule. On 15 February 1904 a pedestal designed by Molina Civit was completed and the original sculptor Alonso directed the piecing together of the bronze statue. It was erected with the figure facing the line of the border, standing on a globe with South America prominent, his left hand holding a cross and his right raised in blessing.
Angela halted a war and brought two countries together with a bronze reminder of how precious peace is to their shared religious beliefs. She didn't care where the invisible border fell between the two countries. May we all walk in Angela's footsteps!
I write about power dynamics in relationships, the empowerment of women, and the ethical and moral dilemmas love can create in our lives. This is a space where I meditate on those themes and share them with the word. Who knows, my next novel may start right here...