By now, we’ve all seen this infamous tri-panel icon, an Ecce Homo that is Elías García Martínez’ fresco representation of the suffering Christ, crowned with thorns. The three panels escort our eye from left to right; from the fresco in its younger days, to its time-weathered degeneration, ending finally with the well-intentioned yet botched efforts of an amateur restoration that holds only a shadow of the original. This century-old Ecce Homo, housed in Spain’s Santuario de la Misericordia, was first created as an instrument to inspire worship. After its unfortunate “restoration,” the community says it’s now valuable only in a far less lofty function – promoting tourism and stimulating pop-culture. As t-shirts and other marketing items exploit its odd tale, experts now consider it ruined for its original purpose.
All is not lost; the incident brings out at least two valuable lessons that stand out in bold bas-relief.