Nora Johnson – From fresco fumbles to statue slip-ups

Remember my recent column about the Tenerife priest who ordered 300-year-old frescoes to be painted over? He claimed he didn’t know the frescoes were protected and that “we’re now in hands of God” while experts assess if they can be salvaged.

In fact, local and national papers were quick to note at the time the similarities with the so-called Monkey Christ restoration of 2012. On that occasion a parishioner’s unfinished attempt to restore a fresco of the scourged Christ in the north-eastern Spanish town of Borja went viral, prompting endless memes and attracting tens of thousands of tourists.

Other high-profile, botched Spanish restorations have followed, including (in a chapel in Navarre) an overly restored statue of Saint George who was left with a rosy pink face and a strikingly bold suit of armour that reminded some of Tintin and others of a Playmobil figure.

Then came the makeover of three statues in Asturias, reminiscent of a makeup session gone wrong. An amateur restorer thought they needed a facelift – garish robes, turquoise green hair and a touch of makeup – leaving them looking more like they’re in fancy dress than religious icons.

Seems like Spain’s restoration adventures are the gift that keeps on giving. With each blunder we are reminded that, sometimes, less is more – especially when it comes to preserving history!

Nora Johnson’s 12 critically acclaimed psychological suspense crime thrillers, including the latest ‘The Couple across the Street’ (, all available online at Amazon etc. Profits to Cudeca cancer charity.


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Written by

Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.