Fact Check

Does Viral Photo Show Lightning Striking the Christ Redeemer Statue?

It happens way more often than you would think.

Published Feb. 16, 2023

Updated Feb. 17, 2023
 (Fernando Braga/Instagram)
Image Via Fernando Braga/Instagram
A viral photo authentically shows lightning striking the Christ Redeemer Statue near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

On Feb. 11, 2023, a photo of the Brazilian statue known as Christ the Redeemer began to go viral across platforms. It showed the statue being struck by lightning the night before. We found it to be authentic.

The photo has millions of views across platforms like Twitter, TikTok and Reddit. Christ the Redeemer is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Brazil, located outside Rio de Janeiro.

Reverse image searches didn't reveal any clear signs it was falsified or came from a location other than the one claimed. 

It has been reported by several publications, including Catholic News Agency, that the photo was taken by Brazilian photographer Fernando Braga on Feb. 10, 2023. Braga's Instagram account includes numerous photos of Christ the Redeemer, including ones showing the statue in front of the moon and when planes have passed by.

We reached out to Braga and will update this check if we hear anything back.

Some on social media have claimed the lightning strike is prophetic. However, this is far from the first time Christ the Redeemer has been struck by lightning. Brazil's National Institute for Space Research has said the statue is hit by lightning up to five times each year, according to Atlas Obscura.

In 2008, it was also struck on the head and was minimally damaged. Six years later, in 2014, the statue had to be repaired after it was struck on the hand. 


Bryson, Lucy. "It's Hard Work to Restore Rio's Christ the Redeemer, but the Views Are Amazing." Atlas Obscura, 21 May 2021, http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/restoring-christ-the-redeemer.

Fields, Liz. "Rio's Christ Chips Finger in Lightning Storm." ABC News, 18 Jan. 2014. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/01/rios-christ-chips-finger-in-lightning-storm. Accessed 16 Feb. 2023.

Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/Cof68n1uoPw/. Accessed 16 Feb. 2023.

"Rio Statue Is Repaired after Lightning Strikes - in Pictures." The Guardian, 22 Jan. 2014. www.theguardian.com, http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2014/jan/22/rio-statue-is-repaired-after-lightning-strikes-in-pictures.

Singer, Paola. "A Local's Ultimate Rio de Janeiro Itinerary." Architectural Digest, 13 July 2016, https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/local-travel-guide-rio-de-janeiro.


Feb. 17, 2023: This story was corrected so Rio de Janeiro is not erroneously referred to as the capital of Brazil.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.