Born in Catalonia, Spain in 1885, Costa
attended the seminary in Barcelona, was ordained in San Antonio in 1911 and assigned to El Paso in 1912.
In 1924, Father Costa was assigned as the pastor of San José del Rio Parish in Smeltertown, later renamed San José de Cristo Rey after the monument was built.
The Cristo Rey peak, 4,576 feet above sea level, is said to have been a lookout for Apaches.
The original name of the mountain was Pico del Rodadero del Cerro de Muleros.
After the building of the monument, however, the parishioners at Smeltertown appealed to Washington, D.C. to change the name of the peak to Sierra de Cristo Rey.
In later years, Father Costa
said that he
got the idea for building the monument after waking up every morning to see the mountain from his
In 1933, when Pope Pius XI called on parishes throughout the world to build spiritual or material monuments to mark the nineteenth Centennial of the Redemption, Father Costa
began to visualize the erection of a cross on the peak.
The more he
prayed on it, the more he
thought the idea was divinely inspired.
On Saturday, October 28, 1933, on the eve of the Feast of Christ the King, he
and 100 parishioners, including the church's Boy Scout troop, first climbed the Cerro de Muleros.
The following day, Father Costa
preached a sermon on the subject to his
parishioners who made a vow to erect a cross on top of the mountain dedicated to Christ the King to be replaced later with a permanent monument.
The parishioners and Father Costa
first built a six-foot wide, fourmile trail to the top of the peak.
In February 1934, the parishioners placed a temporary wooden cross which was replaced within a few months with a metal cross built by students at the Smelter Vocational School
On Palm Sunday in 1934, during the first official pilgrimage to the peak, the iron cross was planted and blessed.
In 1937, Monsignor Costa met with Bishop Schuler and suggested his friend and countryman, world famous sculptor Urbici Soler, to build a permanent monument.