Protected 300-Year-Old Frescoes Painted Over

MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2024

A recent paint job at a church in Tenerife, Spain, has caused a public outcry and an investigation as the intended renovation work reportedly covered government-protected, 300-year-old frescoes.

The priest at the church of St. Anthony of Padua said he had not known the frescoes in his presbytery had been given protected status more than a decade ago.

According to The Guardian, the 16th-century church was rebuilt in the 18th century after burning to the ground during a volcanic eruption in 1706. The place of worship was reportedly listed with a heritage status in 2011.

The frescoes were discovered during restoration work two decades ago, and at the time were covered with a protective but “easily removable” paint for conservation.

“I’m sorry and I apologize to all the relevant authorities,” priest Héctor Lunar told local newspaper El Día, adding he had had no idea what was on the walls he ordered to be stripped and repainted last week.

“No one told me about it. All I wanted to do was add another coat of paint to that bit of the church to get it ready for Holy Week events.”

He added he had only just found the church’s heritage status meant he should have consulted the Canaries regional government before undertaking any works on the building.

“If they need to punish me, they should punish me,” he said. “My mistake was not having informed myself about the riches of the church of St. Anthony of Padua. I’d like to apologize to the authorities and the religious community of El Tanque. My intention wasn’t to cause any damage when I began efforts to improve the church. I’m very sorry.”

The regional government of the Canary Islands has reportedly launched an investigation into the accident, in which Lunar hired workers to strip and repaint the interior walls of the church.

Esther Morales, the mayor of El Tanque, welcomed the priest’s apology and said she hoped the frescoes could be salvaged.

“We just hope that everything can get back to normal as soon as possible,” the mayor told El Día. “But we need to wait for the report from the regional government’s heritage department to see what the damage is. We hope it can be repaired.”

While the local religious brotherhood had reportedly denounced the work and called for him to be replaced, his apology was accepted. However, they added that it simply couldn’t understand why he had not known about the frescoes or why he had failed to consult others before ordering in the decorators.

Local and regional heritage experts are reportedly examining the walls to see if the paintings can be saved.

“We’re now in the hands of God and of those with the right knowledge,” Lunar said.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Churches; Coating Application - Commercial; Coatings; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Latin America; Maintenance + Renovation; Murals; Murals; North America; Paint; Preservation; Program/Project Management; Protective Coatings; Renovation; Restoration; Restoration; Z-Continents

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