62-foot Jesus statue in Ohio set aflame by lightning
A 62-feet tall, 40-feet wide statue of Jesus in Ohio has attracted media attention because of the irony attached to the fact that a faith structure burst into flames when it was struck by lightning.
But for Darlene Bishop, co-pastor of Solid Rock Church, it was a blessing in disguise, the Washington Post says.
Bishop said she was grateful that the bolt of lightning hit the $300,000 statue, and not the adjacent building where at-risk women are staying. “I told them, ‘It looks like Jesus took a hit for you last night,’” the Washington Post reported.
The statue, called “King of Kings” was built in 2004 at the Solid Rock Church, a nondenominational evangelical church which Bishop and her husband, Lawrence Bishop started, the Associated Press said.
The statue was often called Touchdown Jesus because the upraised arms resembled those of a referee. Its material, plastic foam and fiberglass, are highly flammable, the AP said.
Touchdown Jesus had become a major landmark in southwest Ohio, and is the latest of many tall structures that have been struck by lightning, and many religious icons that have been built in sizeable proportions, the Washington Post said.
Examples of the latter are the 130-foot Christ the Redeemer statue, a popular tourist landmark in Rio de Janeiro, which was struck by lightning in 2008. The 33-foot Jesus statue at Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Ohio was struck the year before, the Washington Post said.
Other tall religious statues that have been struck by lightning are The Notre Dame de Chicago’s Virgin Mary which stood on top of the church’s dome, and a statue of St. Joan of Arc in New Orleans. The Angel Moroni which is usually put at the top of Mormon churches has also been struck by lightning many times, The Washington Post said.
Touchdown Jesus was struck at about 11:15 p.m. Monday. The blaze swelled and reached the attic area of the adjacent amphitheater, but no one was injured. Damage to the theatre is estimated at $400,000 the AP said.
The fire halted traffic as people stopped to take pictures. Others retrieved some of the foam from the statue to bring home, the AP said.
Many bystanders felt America needs more symbols like it. Bishop said, “This meant a lot to a lot of people,” the AP reported.