Oct. 17, 1991: In the autumn of 1991, a 40-foot likeness of Jesus appeared in the lobby of the City-County Building, prompting stares and puzzlement. Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union visited the office of Mayor Sophie Masloff because at that time, the organization was fighting a legal battle in the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the display of religious symbols in front of Pittsburgh’s public buildings.

Moviemakers installed the likeness of Jesus because they were filming “Lorenzo’s Oil” and wanted to make the City-County Building look like the entrance to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where there is a large statue of Christ.

“Lorenzo’s Oil,” released in 1992 and starring Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon, dramatized the story of Lorenzo Odone, who was 5 when he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. His parents, Augusto and Michaela Odone, tried to develop a cure for their son’s condition. Lorenzo Odone died at his home in Virginia in 2008, one day after his 30th birthday. (Photo by Darrell Sapp, Post-Gazette)
— Marylynne Pitz

Oct. 17, 1991: In the autumn of 1991, a 40-foot likeness of Jesus appeared in the lobby of the City-County Building, prompting stares and puzzlement. Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union visited the office of Mayor Sophie Masloff because at that time, the organization was fighting a legal battle in the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the display of religious symbols in front of Pittsburgh’s public buildings.

Moviemakers installed the likeness of Jesus because they were filming “Lorenzo’s Oil” and wanted to make the City-County Building look like the entrance to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where there is a large statue of Christ.

“Lorenzo’s Oil,” released in 1992 and starring Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon, dramatized the story of Lorenzo Odone, who was 5 when he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. His parents, Augusto and Michaela Odone, tried to develop a cure for their son’s condition. Lorenzo Odone died at his home in Virginia in 2008, one day after his 30th birthday. 

(Photo by Darrell Sapp, Post-Gazette)

Marylynne Pitz