Cecilia Gimenez's restoration of "Ecce Homo" is attracting a lot of people to the church who want to see the ruined painting
Elias Garcia Martinez's 19-century painting "Ecce Homo" may not have been worth much before it was restored, but it has now turned into a tourist attraction. It's all because an eager churchgoer decided to restore the flaking fresco herself and made Jesus look like an ape man.
Cecilia Gimenez, who is in her 80s, denies touching up the painting in secret and told the BBC that the priest told her to do it. No matter who was in charge, the painting, which had hung on the church walls for more than 120 years in Spain, went from looking like Jesus to a half man, half monkey creation drawn in crayon by a child.
This painting is now attracting far more attention than the original ever did. NBC News reports hundreds of people have flocked to the small town to see the painting. So many people are going that the painting had to be roped off and watched by a security guard.
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Tens of thousands of locals have signed a petition to not change a single brush stroke to the "restored" painting.
And the painting's fame isn't just for locals in Spain. It has a Tumblr page where people Photoshop the image in many different places including other famous paintings such as The Last Supper. It has an online fan club called the Beast-Jesus Restoration Society and it even tweets under the handle @FrescoJesus.
"Thousands of tourists came to see me today. HAAA!!! It's me Jesus, your saviour! Cheese," reads a tweet.
"Swear I heard her at one point go 'Nailed it!'" reads another.
@FrescoJesus says he forgives the woman because there is some spiritual connection between the two.
Despite the petition and the many new fans, officials are saying they still hope to be able to restore the painting and if they can't, they plan to put a photo of the original over the new one.
(Image posted by @FrescoJesus on Twitter)