Mexico City

Pope to Find Mixed Political Messages in Mexico Trip

Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, Bill Perry,

Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, Bill Perry,

SILAO, Mexico--Pilgrims ply a winding mountain to the summit of the Cerro del Cubilete in the western state of Guanajuato, visiting a statue of "Christ the King" erected as an act of defiance during a period of church-state conflict.

The Cristo Rey, as it is known, stands as a reminder of the Roman Catholic rebels who fought forces of an anti-clerical central government during the Cristero Rebellion of the 1920s, when churches and seminaries were shut down and the Catholic Church lost its legal standing and the right to own property.

The statue towers over a park where Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass for 300,000 Catholics on Sunday (March 25).

"It offers a great platform for the vindication of the church in its confrontations with the state," said Victor Ramos Cortes, a religion expert at the University of Guadalajara. "The symbolism is perfect."