"--IANS/EFE"
Rio de Janeiro, July 12 (IANS/EFE) The Christ the Redeemer statue that crowns Corcovado mountain here, being repaired since February after being damaged by lightning, has been completely restored two days before this Brazilian metropolis hosts the 2014 World Cup final between Argentina and Germany.

To mark the occasion, the Catholic archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Cardinal Orani Joao Tempesta, said mass in the statue's chapel and blessed the workers Friday.

Corcovado, considered one of the present-day Seven Wonders of the World, has been repaired on three other occasions and the latest work cost 1.9 million reals ($863,000), paid entirely by Italian tyre-maker Pirelli.

Clezi Thadeu, an engineer charged with repairing the monument, told Efe news agency that the protection system has been improved so that the figure of Christ the Redeemer will not be damaged by the next lightning bolts that strike the enormous statue.

The Rev. Omar Raposo, rector of the sanctuary located at the feet of the gigantic figure of Christ, said the government contributed no money for the repairs because it is the church's private property.

In return for its financial contribution, Pirelli may use the image of Christ the Redeemer for corporate purposes for three years, though it must receive previous approval from the archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.

More than 300,000 tourists have visited Corcovado to date during the World Cup, which began June 12.

A vote is being taken on Twitter with regard to the World Cup final next Sunday in which users can choose whether the monument should be illuminated with Argentina's colours or Germany's during the game.

--IANS/EFE

ab/vm


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