Woman ruins 19th century painting while trying to restore it

Cecilia Gimenez admits to botching the Elias Garcia Martinez artwork, but says the priest told her to restore it

An elderly woman who ruined a 19th century painting of Jesus by trying to restore it says the priest knew what she was doing all along.

Cecilia Gimenez, who is in her 80s, told the BBC the church always repairs deteriorating artwork in the building and says the priest told her to do it. She denies going behind anyone's back and attempting to restore the painting in secret.

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Gimenez is not a professional restorer, but attempted to repair the painting Ecce Homo by Elias Garcia Martinez after it had deteriorated. Officials at the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Zaragoza, where the painting was kept, are now scrambling to see if the painting can be saved.

The painting had hung on the church walls in Spain for more than 120 years, but over the past 18 months moisture in the church had caused the artwork to deteriorate.

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According to the Telegraph, Gimenez was upset by the disrepair so she took it upon herself to fix the situation. The image above shows from left to right the original version, the deteriorated version and Gimenez' restoration attempt.

"The result is disastrous and we are consulting experts to see what can be done," said Javier Silvestre, the councillor of Culture at Borja town hall, to the Telegraph.

The botched attempt was only discovered when the artist's granddaughter donated money to have the painting restored and an expert was sent out to look at it. Church officials initially thought it had been vandalized, but then Gimenez came forward.

The value of the original work is not considered to be very high. The church is considering legal action against Gimenez.

(AFP image)