'Fresco Jesus' Attracts Hundreds of Visitors

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THE GIST

- An elderly patron of a Spanish church carried out the well-meaning restoration on a painting of Jesus.

- The fresco -- called "Ecce Homo" (Behold the Man) -- now resembles a pale monkey's face.

- Hundreds of tourists have flocked to the church and an online petition has been set up to halt plans to re-restore the painting.

It's been dubbed the "world's worst restoration", but a 102-year-old church painting of Christ that now resembles a pale monkey is drawing visitors by the hundreds to a sleepy Spanish town.

The northeastern town of Borja garnered global press attention after residents decried the well-meaning restoration efforts of Cecilia Gimenez, described as being in her 80s, who made a horribly botched attempt to restore a flaking oil painting of Christ wearing the crown of thorns.

The "restored" painting looks like a pale monkey's face surrounded by fur, with misshapen eyes and nose, and a crooked smudge for a mouth. Some media have called it the worst restoration in history.

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On Saturday, hundreds of curious visitors queued up outside the Iglesia del Santuario de Misericordia church, where the image is painted on a column.

"The previous painting was also very pretty, but I really like this one," a woman who had traveled to the town said on public television.

Titled "Ecce Homo" (Behold the Man), the original was painted in 1910 by an artist called Elias Garcia Martinez.

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Almost 18,000 people have now signed an online petition to halt the town's plan to return the painting to its pre-restoration glory.

The social web has also reacted to the botched restoration. A Twitter account known as @FrescoJesus -- described as "Once a handsome fresco now a hedgehog" -- has appeared online, kick-starting a meme with the tweet: "MY FACE!!! WHAT HAPPENED TO MY FACE!!!!!!"

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