UNDATED (CBS) -- People are talking about the attempt to restore a 19th century Spanish painting. Art experts are cringing at the results, while other people are applauding the effort. Either way, the artwork has become an overnight sensation.

Four-hundred years of sleepy obscurity ended abruptly at the parish church of Borja. Thanks, not to a miracle, but a botched art restoration that tourists are flocking to see and been seen with.

Here's the fresco of by the 19th Century artist Elias Garcia Martinez before and after the touch-up job by retired parishioner Cecilia Jiminez. "I wanted to repair water damage," she said, and insisted she had permission from the local priest.

Art critic Richard Cork says, "It's incredibly funny. It's creature without a mouth, holding a scroll for no apparent reason, the hair is all over the place. Christ has lost his crown of thorns. In fact if you looked at you wouldn't think of Christ at all, you'd think of some extraordinary apparition in a zoo."

Spanish art experts, brought in to examine the damage, don't know whether to laugh or cry. But online, with a little help from Photoshop, the image is a viral joke. It even has its own Twitter feed @FrescoJesus.

And 20,000 people have signed an online petition to have the restoration to stay. They may get their way. Cork says, "It's going to take a long, long time to restore, if they even can even restore it. I'm quite worried whether they will even be able to remove it because by removing it you might discover there is nothing left underneath."

The little town of Borja is gripped like the rest of Spain by a deep recession. Tourists and visitors are bringing in much-needed business. "It's good for the bar and the gas station," says this resident, "I hope it carries on for a couple of years."

Cecilia Jiminiez and her restored fresco may be a global laughing stock, but they're a local blessing.

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