Painted statues in Rañadorio, Spain

Restoration comedy

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First it was the Spanish town of Borja, where an 80 year-old parishioner decided that what an old, flaking wall painting of Christ needed was a spot of amateur restoration. So she took a big fat paintbrush and Jesus ended up looking like a cross between an eskimo and a hedgehog.

Next was the town of Estella, where a local handicrafts teacher tarted up a 16th century statue of St George, leaving him looking like a character out of Tintin.

Now it’s the turn of remote Spanish hamlet Rañadorio, which has a group of treasured 15th century church statues (pictured above). They’ve been given a colour-by-numbers paint job by tobacco shop owner María Luisa Menéndez, who thought they looked a bit tired. The Madonna has ended up looking like Barbie, with plucked eyebrows, red lipstick and green hair, while child Jesus looks like he’s wandered out of a Playmobil set.

What in the name of Pablo Picasso is going on?

Photo of the restorations of Jesus in Borja, and St George in Estella
The restorations of Jesus in Borja, and St George in Estella.

Could it be that the village of Rañadorio has spotted that things didn’t turn out too wretchedly for Borja when Hedgehog Jesus became an Internet sensation in 2012? At first, the botched paint job was greeted with a storm of ridicule, but since then, the town has been deluged with visitors queueing up for selfies with with our Lord, and there’s also been a comic opera and a museum dedicated to the, er, work of art.

Coincidentally, Rañadorio is on one of the Camino pilgrim routes. It can only be a matter of time before it’s a pilgrimage destination in its own right.

Simon Jenkins

Simon Jenkins

Simon Jenkins is the editor of Ship of Fools.

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