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Cristo Redentor looking over the harbor of Rio.

One of the most defining features of Rio de Janeiro is the 125-foot statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), which stands atop Corcovado Mountain overlooking all of Rio.

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It’s amazing to look up from wherever you are in the city and see the statue standing immobile, ever watchful, for the past 80+ years.

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The statue points to the two things Brazilians love best: the ocean and the soccer stadium.

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One January 16, Cristo Redentor was struck by lightning (which happens several times a year, apparently), this time on both the hands and the head. One strike even severed a portion of the statue’s right thumb. Though likely due solely to meteorological circumstances, some people saw this injury of the statue as judgment on Brazil’s politicians and ruling class, who have not been taking care of the poor and needy of the nation. Others said it was God’s judgment that the World Cup should not be held in Brazil this June and July.

Whatever the reason, the statue was damaged, and the city management began immediate reparations: one can’t have a damaged icon when the foreigners arrive en masse this June!

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Because the lightning “arrester” didn’t do its job, it must be replaced, and the damaged thumb and head must be repaired.

In February, several brave souls were sent up into and on top of Cristo Redentor to make repairs. Because it’s not possible to install scaffolding around the statue, workers have to use climbing ropes and extreme sports climbing skills to make the repairs. This is not a job for the faint of heart.

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Photos courtesy of AP news.

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Estimates are that repairs will be completed within four months. Meanwhile, lightning storms continue in this nation where there are more lightning strikes per year than on any other spot on Earth.