Rio cover up curves on female sand sculptures for pope visit

RIO DE JANEIRO (July 18, 2013): Out of respect for Pope Francis due here next week, sand artists have covered up the curves of female sculptures on Brazil's world famous Copacabana beach.

The beach is where crowds of young Catholic faithful from around the globe will welcome the pontiff for World Youth Day.

"My job is to build sand women but out of respect for the pope and at the very spot where he is to give his blessing, I changed their attire," said sculptor Ubiratan dos Santos.

Next to a sand sculpture of Pope Francis seated in an armchair under a, real, palm tree, dos Santos' trademark bikini-clad woman, lying on her stomach, now dons a small pleated skirt.

Sand sculptures of women by other artists now also have their chests covered.

"I want the pope to bless us all and the world, we need his faith," dos Santos said.

But not all are on board with the move to modesty.

Rio caricaturist Lan objected to the initiative, stressing that the city exudes sensuality.

"It is an exuberant city," he told the daily O Globo. "Curves are part of the city's collective imagination and it was not necessary to cover the sculptures."

Pope Francis will be in Brazil July 22-28 on his first foreign trip to be marked by several historic moments, including addressing youths at Copacabana beach on July 25. – AFP