Massachusetts man arrested in assault and vandalism incident at Boston cathedral

Crucifix A crucifix that was vandalized at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Oct. 25, 2023, has since been repaired. | Credit: Joe Bukuras/CNA

Boston police arrested a man Wednesday for allegedly assaulting a woman and defacing a crucifix outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. 

Michael Patzelt, 37, from Attleboro, was charged with assault and malicious destruction of property following his arrest, the Boston Police Department said in a press release.

Officers responded to a call for a “suspicious person” at the cathedral who allegedly knocked the headwear off of a female victim, police said. 

Police said the suspect climbed up the crucifix and began to swing and hang from him, damaging it. 

Both of the arms of Christ were broken before officers responded to the scene and arrested him. 

“We appreciate the swift action by the Boston Police Department in apprehending a suspect,” Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese, told CNA Thursday. 

“Whatever motivated this person to damage the crucifix, we know it can be repaired and continue to be a source of prayer and hope for the faithful and all those who find comfort in the Lord,” Donilon said. 

“We ask that people pray for the individual and for peace in his heart,” he added.

The crucifix has since been repaired.

Numerous acts of vandalism against Catholic churches have occurred around the U.S. in recent months.

Earlier this month at another Massachusetts church, two 12-year-olds were identified by police as suspects in a vandalism, which included a fire being set to an altar cloth, a tabernacle cloth, and the lectionary. 

In August, police arested a man suspected of attempting to light an Ohio church on fire in addition to heavily vandalizing it, causing an estimated $20,000 in damages.

In June and July, a church in El Paso, Texas, and a school in Denver were targeted as well.

Earlier this month a pro-life display at a St. Louis-area Catholic parish was also vandalized with red paint.

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