‘Ecce Homo’ Meme Has Attracted Over 150,000 Tourists

By Karen Fratti 

Remember the best meme of 2012? Turns out that the botched restoration of “Ecce Homo” is actually making the small Spanish town, Borja, tourism cash. A report in the New York Times says that:

Since the makeover, the image has attracted more than 150,000 tourists from around the world — Japan, Brazil, the United States — to the gothic 16th century Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy on a mountain overlooking Borja. Visitors pay one euro, or about $1.25, to study the fresco, encased on a flaking wall behind a clear, bolted cover worthy of the Louvre’s Mona Lisa.

It’s also made Cecilia Giménez sort of famous. She’s known, according to the Times, “Madonna-like, as simply Cecilia.” She’s also “celebrated” every August 25th, the day she ruined the fresco. The Times continues:

This Christmas, the image of her “Ecce Homo” is stamped on the town’s lottery tickets. The portrait also plays a bit part in a popular Spanish movie, with a couple of thieves trying to steal it… In the economic crisis of the last six years, 300 jobs vanished, [Borja’s mayor, Miguel Arilla] said, but with the tourism boom, restaurants remained stable. Local museums, [Arilla] added, also benefited. The nearby Museum of Colegiata, housed in a 16th century Renaissance mansion, experienced a rise in annual visits to 70,000 from 7,000 for its religious, medieval art.

So what was a hysterical disaster actually turned out to be not so bad. Gimenez, too, has made some cash off of her mistake, selling other original artworks. You know some Internet-savvy hipster wants one, ironically, for the holidays.