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OLV's World Premiere of Behold the Man featured in The Guardian

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"‘Monkey Christ’ opera makes a hero of woman who botched Spanish fresco"

"Cecilia Giménez, now almost 93, achieved unwanted global fame in the summer of 2012 after attempting to restore a small fresco of the scourged and thorn-crowned Christ in the Santuario de Misericordia near her home town of Borja.

Her incomplete efforts to save the Ecce Homo (Behold the man) painting – which had been painted on one of the church’s inner walls by the artist Elías García Martínez nine decades earlier – met with local, national and international derision. As well as being attacked as “the worst restoration in history”, Giménez’s handiwork soon acquired the less than flattering nickname of “Monkey Christ” because of its vaguely simian aspect.

The incident immediately caught the sympathetic eye of Andrew Flack, a US public relations expert.

“When I saw her face in the newspaper, I just thought, ‘Oh my goodness! She didn’t mean to do this’,” Flack said. “I saw her distress and I saw her innocence. This is a woman of the community. She’d lived in this town her whole life – she was married in that church, her children were christened in that church – so she would never do anything that was hurtful. But she did this and it was a good deed gone wrong.”

Fascinated and determined to help, Flack opted for an unusual show of solidarity."

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