@fsbragaphotos / Instagram

Images of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, being struck by lightning have gone viral. The amazing images were posted by Fernando Braga, with the caption translated from Portuguese saying, “DIVINE LIGHTNING !!! IT’S FRIDAY!!! Recordings taken on February 10, 2023, at 6:55 PM (Christ) and 19:03 PM (Antenna) using NIKON D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8E at 70mm f/8 13″ ISO 100.” The images show a bolt of lightning striking the head of the statue, creating an almost divine aura. The moment inspired some Jesus vs. Thor commentary, with one user writing, “Mom! Thor and Jesus are at it again!”

The statue, called “Cristo Redentor” in Portuguese, stands nearly 100 feet tall and sits atop the Corcovado Hill. It was built between 1922 to 1931. The statue’s creator, Paul Landowski, never got to see the finished statue due to the length of travel from France to Brazil and other projects he had ongoing, but it has become a global symbol of Christianity. It is also considered one of the seven new wonders of the world, along with the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, and the Taj Mahal. The recent events are not the first time the statue has been struck by lightning. It was struck before in 2008 and another time in 2014. In 2014, the lightning damaged the statue’s thumb, requiring restoration work. The statue had further restoration work done in preparation for its 90th anniversary in 2021. In describing his experiences restoring the statue, Alexsandro Brauna said, “This work feels just totally outside the realms of normal life. Brazilians call Rio the Cidade Maravilhosa [Marvelous City], but it’s only when you get up this high that you can appreciate just how incredible it really is. And getting up close like this, we can see all the skill involved [in the statue].”

The statue is not the only giant statue of Jesus in Brazil. Last April, construction was completed on the Christ the Protector statue (Cristo Protector in Portuguese). Located in the small town of Encantado in the Rio Grande do Sul region, the statue stands at 143 feet tall. The statue has already begun receiving visitors and has been the site of several religious services. Brazil’s fascination with Christ stems in part from it having the largest Catholic population in the world. About two-thirds of its population are Catholic, and a growing percent (estimated at 31 percent) are Protestant. Duilia De Mello of Rio, who teaches at a Catholic University, described Christ the Redeemer’s importance to Brazil, saying, “That statue is really important for us in Rio and for the people in Brazil. It has a lot of things behind it — not just the religious symbol but this welcoming symbol of open arms. It’s also supposed to mean we are good hosts.”

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