‘Christ of the Abyss’ was dedicated to one of the first Italians to use SCUBA gear.
A swimmer happening upon the sculpture might assume that its presence was some happy accident — the remains of a shipwreck containing liturgical art or a lost civilization, perhaps.
Tourists taking one of the many SCUBA-diving tours to the underwater site know better. Some, in fact, come to see the sculpture to pay their respects to those who have lost their lives while conducting research under the sea.
The underwater sculpture of Jesus Christ owes its existence to the legendary Italian diver Duilio Marcante, who came up with the idea for the underwater statue while mourning the death of his colleague, Dario Gonzatti, one of the pioneers of SCUBA diving. Gonzatti who was killed during a dive at that spot in 1947.
As a tribute to Gonzatti and others who died at sea, the sculptor Guido Galletti created the bronze sculpture. It was placed at the bottom of the sea on August 22, 1954, and blessed by Pope Pius XII, who sent a medallion with his effigy to put on it. Since that time the “Christ of the Abyss” sculpture has become a destination for SCUBA divers from all over the world.
Among the several copies of the “Christ of the Abyss” sculptures in existence is the one that can be found off Key Largo, Florida, in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Cast from the same mold as the original sculpture by Galletti, the Florida version is also a popular destination for divers.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?