A devastating act of vandalism at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Mandarin, Florida last weekend left a total of nine religious statues damaged. Fr. Daniel Cody, pastor of St. Joseph’s, said that he was disappointed by the incident, but is asking his parishioners to pray for whoever committed the acts.
Some statues were only slightly damaged after being pushed from their pedestals, while others were completely destroyed. Included in the damage was a statue of St. Patrick that cost well over $30,000, now shattered. Another statue depicted the Blessed Mother. Made of white Italian marble, it was worth over $22,000. Pushed off its base, the statue is now missing its head.
The vandalism is believed to have occurred sometime Saturday night, and was discovered Sunday morning as the Church was being opened for Mass.
Fr. Daniel Cody, pastor of St. Joseph’s, told CNA that efforts are being made to repair the damaged statues. Those that were only slightly damaged have already been placed back on their pedestals, while those that suffered more extensive harm will require restoration work.
“We have two people from the city who do this sort of work, and have volunteered to help us repair them,” said Fr. Cody, adding that they are planning to visit the parish on Thursday to inspect the damage.
In addition to the Church, the vandals also targeted statues across the street at the Cody Family Enrichment Center and near the cemetery, an area known collectively as “Catholic corners.”
“We had a problem like this about 10 or 12 years ago in the cemetery,” Cody told CNA, adding that such acts are generally not common, and authorities currently have no leads as to who committed the act.
“But we’ve had huge publicity,” Cody continued, noting that the local media have all covered the story. “And we’re offering a $1,000 reward.”
This incident comes just days after unknown vandals desecrated a statue of Jesus at Saint Ann’s Catholic Church in the diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina.
The statue was discovered decapitated and covered in graffiti. In addition, windows in the school building were broken and vulgar graffiti was sprayed inside the church.
The statue, originally a gift, had been blessed by the church and will now have to be buried. Police are investigating the damage at St. Ann’s, which they estimate to total around $4,500.