A team of specialists began working Friday to restore the mountaintop statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's most iconic monument, which was damaged last month by a lightning strike.

Restoration of the giant statue crowning Corcovado mountain began after Catholic Archbishop Orani Tempesta blessed the workers.

The Rio Archdiocese, owner of the statue, entrusted the work to a group of rappelling mountain-climbers to avoid the use of scaffolds, so as not to suspend visits while repairs are underway.

The work begun today is expected to take four months and will focus on the hands and head of the statue. Plans also include expanding the area covered by lightning rods and overhauling the monument's electric and hydraulic systems.

Private firms are helping the archdiocese defray the cost of the repairs, about 2 million reais ($833,000).

Christ the Redeemer, elected as one of the seven wonders of the world in a 2007 online poll, was struck by lightning last January that damaged the third finger of the right hand.

The statue, created in 1931, is visited every year by some 700,000 tourists.

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino