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19th Aug 2019

Seven years since the Fresco Jesus incident, important questions remain unanswered

Ciara Knight

Fresco Jesus? But I barely know him

We’re just four days away from the seven-year anniversary of the Fresco Jesus Incident.

Everyone remembers where they were when the news reached them that ‘Ecce Homo’ had been ruined. Many of our minds immediately jumped to terrorism. Surely an act so sinister could only be carried out in the name of political gain?

When it emerged that this alleged terrorist act was carried out by an elderly parishioner, our pitchforks dropped and we subsequently picked up our laptops to create memes so dank they could only be viewed for the briefest of moments to avoid permanent eye damage setting in. As the dust started to settle, the questions began to flood in quicker than a tsunami and frankly, the responses were sparse, vague and unsatisfying.

Six years, eleven months and 26 days later, the following five questions remain unanswered.

Question #1: Why did the old lady take it upon herself to retouch the painting?


This is probably the most important question that is still unanswered to this very day. I recently re-watched an interview with Cecilia Giminez, the fresco ruiner. Her opening statement was, brazenly, “We’ve always repaired everything here”, referring to the church where once the not-destroyed fresco hung proudly. That feels like an unsatisfactory answer. It’s a huge leap to go from sometimes replacing lightbulbs and fixing squeaky benches to then go and ruin an iconic fresco and categorise it as a standard repair. With a simple opening retort, it instantly becomes clear that Cecilia is not going to accept responsibility for her actions.

She goes on to say that the priest told her to do it, which I actually find plausible. As we all know, priests aren’t the innocent souls we once considered them to be. They’ve been up to all sorts, so it’s not unlike them to purposely deny all involvement in something, thereby landing an elderly parishioner in the middle of an internet shitstorm.

When pushed a bit further by the interviewer and asked if she did it secretly without any prior approval, Cecilia says “Nooooo. Of course not. Everybody who came into the church could see I was painting”. Again, I am caused to doubt my good friend Cecilia. I’ve seen people riding bicycles in the past, that doesn’t mean it’s their own bicycle.  Just because a few people saw you “touching up” the painting, Cecilia, that doesn’t mean you had permission or furthermore, were doing a good job of it.

I’m torn. If my own shortcomings as a person are anything to go by, maybe Cecilia walked past that tattered fresco one too many times and decided to take matters into her own hands. ‘Paining is a piece of piss’, she probably justified to herself. ‘I’ll fix this now and the priest will give me an extra Communion, possibly a free confession as well’. Her intentions were honourable, but what truly persuaded her to do this will eternally remain a mystery. Unless she just fucking tells us, but that’s getting increasingly unlikely.

Question #2: Who was the first person to realise Cecilia’s mistake, and did they fucking throttle her?

Realistically, Cecilia didn’t cop that she had ruined the fresco because she never at any point decided to stop to allow the professionals to step in and do their actual jobs. So it’s logical to assume that someone happened upon this disgraceful attempt at fresco restoration, or ‘frestoration’, if you will, once it was finished. Was it a fellow parishioner? Was it the priest who allegedly green-lighted this debacle? Was it the Lord himself who raised the alarm?

Option A: The priest was meandering through the church on his daily inspection of the frescos and paintings. He does it every day once he’s had his morning coffee and dump. It’s never proved fruitful, but it gives Father the chance to reflect on the night’s slumber he’s just experienced. However, on this particular August morning, he noticed something was amiss with one of the frescos. To his relief, it was merely the sun shining on it, making it look like a glossy Blue’s Clues poster. He felt a wave of calm pass through his body, at which point he turned around to resume his route only to see that, right in front of him, FRESCO JESUS HAD BEEN SAVAGELY ATTACKED. The priest collapsed and sadly died seven hours later in hospital. To this day, we don’t know if he approved of the restoration or not.

Option B: Nancy, a parishioner and close friend of Cecilia, was nipping into the church for a quick Thursday morning prayer session. She was laden with rosary beads that she’d ordered online and was planning to sell them in the church later that day at a higher price than she had paid because Nancy is absolutely ruthless at the best of times. She noticed Cecilia hovering beside the fresco and decided to try to make a quick sale. As the painting came into focus, Nancy’s beads hit the floor in slow motion and immediately shattered upon impact because they were very poor quality. She began crying and praying, which baffled Cecilia. Nancy then rang the authorities and landed her pal in an unfathomable amount of trouble.

Option C: Jesus Christ was having a pretty chilled morning. He was trying out an imitation Nespresso pod that some PR sent him in the post, “Tastes like every other one I’ve ever had”, he remarked to himself, as he watched over everyone in the world via 7.7 billion tiny monitors in his kitchen. Suddenly, something caught his eye. It was an elderly lady in Spain butchering an old fresco he’d posed for back in college. He choked on his knock-off Nespresso, then steadied himself and placed an anonymous call to the Spanish authorities. The cops rolled up on the church, fully armed and quivering with rage. They slowly approached Cecilia and asked her to put down the brush (and for some reason chisel) that she was using and remove the blindfold.

Question #3: Specifically, how long did Cecilia spend ruining the fresco to leave it in such a sorry state beyond repair?

At a quick glance, it appears that Cecilia was given a time limit of no more than eleven seconds to fix the fresco, but how can we be sure? The finished product suggests that someone pointed a gun to her precious little head and told her to fix it or her and her entire family would be lined up and tickled to death. With her hands shaking and tears fogging up her glasses (which blatantly contain the wrong prescription lenses), she did what she could, given the circumstances.

But based on the small amount of information leaked to the public, this is apparently not the case. Cecilia was allegedly given the go-ahead from some mystery priest (or the Lord himself) and then spent an unspecified amount of time running the integrity of this artwork into the ground. Who are we to believe?

The only thing we can gain from knowing how long Cecilia spent restoring the fresco is a good laugh. If it emerges that she spent seven days, I will laugh uncontrollably. If it turns out it was a number of weeks or even months, I will again die from laughing. Basically if it ends up being anything less than a minute, I and many others will succumb to the fatalities of internal bleeding due to incessant laughter. If and when we find out, the blood, among the incorrect shades of paint, will continue to be on Cecilia’s hands.

Question #4: What did Cecilia use to “fix” the painting? Was it her feet?

I simply refuse to believe that any sort of paintbrush was employed in the refurbishing of this fresco. A paintbrush wouldn’t do that, morally. Most paintbrushes are built with smart technology which means there are procedures put in place when something is being destroyed beyond repair. This technology is so advanced that the paintbrush will actually spontaneously combust if it feels that a detrimental action is taking place. It came into circulation after all of Rothko’s paintings were completed.

Looking at this fresco post-Cecilia’s involvement, you can clearly see that she used several power tools, a blindfold, some Crayolas and also her feet. Perhaps she was playing quite a spicy game of ‘Would You Rather?’, and this is how we ended up where we are today. For the sake of humanity, we must never learn what the other option was that she turned down. Rumour has it, it involved horses, but that is unconfirmed.

The biggest issue I have with this whole situation is that Cecilia lied to us. She lied to us all and is continuing to do so by refusing to be transparent about what happened over the course of those days, weeks, months or even years that she spent botching our beloved Fresco Jesus. I’d be willing to forgive her if she’d take part in an hour-long documentary explaining stroke-by-stroke how she arrived at the finished product. Perhaps she would even recreate the piece, providing us with enough memes and gifs to last until August 2022, just in time for the 10th anniversary of this spectacle. Her penance can be teaching art classes to easily-distracted toddlers for the rest of her natural life. Everybody wins.

Question #5: Was the whole thing just a sick but very clever ploy for online clout and an inevitable boost in tourism?

Let’s hypothesise that Cecilia knew what she was doing all along. She was in her 80s at the time, but her brain was as sharp as a tack. Ever since she was 3 years old, she dreamed about going viral on the internet that was yet to be invented. She had to take a back seat in life as she saw us make an overnight sensation of a little baby who maliciously bit his brother’s finger and a toddler that couldn’t pronounce ‘firetruck’ properly. She wanted a slice of the viral pie and you have to admire her for that.

It’s not unreasonable to assume that Cecilia hatched this plan, potentially in conjunction with the unnamed priest, to secure her place as the perpetrator of something that would be recognised worldwide within minutes of it being unveiled, thereby giving the region of Borja, Spain, a huge boost in tourism. Cecilia Giminez is practically a household name these days. Fresco Jesus, not so much. Think about it, how likely are you to travel to Spain to see a fresco that hasn’t gone viral for being laughably shit? Cecilia milked her five minutes of fame, falsely protesting her innocence at every opportunity. But now it’s time. Seven years on, we deserve the truth.

Cecilia, if you’re reading this, it’s time to come clean. We’ve waited long enough. We deserve to hear what actually happened, then we can all move on together, safe in the knowledge of what went down on that fateful day. We can’t promise that there won’t be severe implications for your honesty, but we can guarantee that you will get into heaven. The ball is in your court, Cecilia. Louis Theroux is standing by to speak with you. It’s not too late.