14 Mar, 2024 @ 13:40
1 min read

Priest forced to apologise in Spain’s Tenerife after ordering 300-year old frescoes to be painted over during restoration of a church

A PRIEST in the Canary Islands has been forced to apologise to angry locals after accidentally ordering workers to paint over historic frescoes during a church’s restoration.

Hector Lunar, a priest on the island of Tenerife, has asked for forgiveness following an outcry by churchgoers, claiming that he never knew that the 300-year old artworks had been awarded protected status over a decade ago.

The incident at the San Antonio de Padua church in the town of El Tanque on the north-west coast has prompted an official investigation from the Canary Islands’ regional government.

“I’m sorry and I apologise to all the relevant authorities”, the Venezuelan-born priest told El Día, the Tenerife daily newspaper.

The church, which dates back to the 16th century, was being restored when the walls were ordered to be stripped and repainted.

The frescoes were discovered two decades ago during separate restoration works, with the place of worship listed in 2011.

Lunar joined the congregation in September 2022 after fleeing his native Venezuela after receiving threats following criticism of Nicolas Maduro’s despotic presidential regime.

“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”, Lunar insisted.

Local regulations state that any restorations on buildings with heritage status must be approved by the regional government beforehand.

Esther Morales, the mayor of El Tanque, said: “We just hope that everything can get back to normal as soon as possible. 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”.

Lunar’s apology was accepted by local religious officials, although they remain bemused at how he had not known about the frescoes, nor had consulted others before ordering restoration works to take place.

“We’re now in the hands of God”, the priest added. 


Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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