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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Byte me: 31 Aug 2012

Byte me: 31 Aug 2012

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The sleepy northern Spanish town of Borja attracted worldwide attention recently when 80-year-old Cecilia Gimenez, infused with a sense of divine charity, decided to take it upon herself to restore a dilapidated 19th century painting of Christ.

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the people that walk down it dress in smocks, lost their noses from overindulgence in glue-sniffing and generally look like the ungodly result of carnal relations between a man and a spider monkey. Gimenez’s noble enterprise was so woefully inept that her post-touch-up Jesus looks like it’s about to crawl out from behind the radiator in a David Lynch film.

Town officials have decried the deed as “unspeakable”, and descendants of the original painter living in the town have been devastated by the desecration, but the Lord’s new look has its fair share of fans online.

In the last week, Gimenez’s reimagined Jesus has been grafted onto other famous examples of Christian iconography by artful Photoshoppers across the world. Everything, from the Christ the Redeemer statue that towers above Rio de Janeiro, to a piece of toast reputed to have had a holy image encrusted into its side, has been reworked to accommodate the Spaniard’s terrifying, Planet of the Apes vision.

When people got bored of that, they started shopping the Monkey God’s head on Neutral Milk Hotel albums and Big Lebowski characters.

After less than a week in the international consciousness, Wikipedia now demarcates the Spanish city of Borja and its Peruvian namesake with a “famous for unauthorised fresco painting” qualifier on its disambiguation page.

Despite outrage among the town’s inhabitants, the AP reported on Tuesday that a regular stream of tourists have made a pilgrimage to the church which houses the botched restoration in the days since the story broke.

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