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Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer is lit with the flags of countries affected by the coronavirus

FLORIAN PLANCHEUR / AFP

Zelda Caldwell - published on 03/19/20 - updated on 03/19/20

Rio de Janeiro’s archbishop held mass at the statue, and urged people to pray for those afflicted.

The outstretched arms of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue have long been a symbol of God’s love for the world. On Wednesday night, the flags of all of the countries hit by the COVID-19 pandemic were displayed on the statue, along with the message #pray together in translated into the languages of those affected by the disease.

On Tuesday, as the number of cases of coronavirus hit 261 in Brazil, Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro declared states of emergency, and the 125-foot statue, which receives 2 million visitors a year, closed, along with all of the country’s national parks.

The following evening, Rio de Janeiro’s archbishop Orani João Tempesta celebrated Mass at the base of the statue, while the Church’s message of solidarity was projected on the edifice, which could be seen all across the city.

In 1921 the Catholic archdiocese of Rio selected the 2,310-foot high summit of Mount Corcovado, as the site for the statue of Christ so that it would be visible from anywhere in the city. In 2006, on the 75th anniversary of the statue, a chapel at its base was consecrated to Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil.

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