A construction crane knocked the head and torso off a statue of St. Paul atop Liège Cathedral in Belgium Monday.

CathoBel, the official website of the Catholic Church in Francophone Belgium, reported that the accident occurred in the early afternoon on Dec. 7 as the cathedral, which is dedicated to St. Paul, was nearing the end of five years of restoration work.

The crane separated the head and upper body from the statue, causing them to plunge through the cathedral's roof and become lodged in a hole that they created in the building's ceiling.

Photographs showed that the broken statue was partially visible from inside the cathedral, embedded in a brightly decorated vaulted ceiling. 

The impact caused dust and rubble to fall to the floor of the cathedral, which was founded in the 10th century. 

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CathoBel quoted Fr. Lambert Wers, the episcopal vicar of Liège diocese, as saying that it was fortunate that no one was injured by the falling masonry.

The website added that the cathedral would be closed to the public for a few days and the repair costs would be covered by the construction company.

The incident comes at the end of a gruelling year for Catholics in Belgium, which is widely reported to have the world's highest COVID-19 death rate.

The country's approximately 6.5 million Catholics will be obliged to celebrate Christmas at home after the government decreed that public Masses would remain suspended until Jan. 15, 2021. 

Lay Catholics are seeking to overturn the decision in the country's courts.

Belgium's public service broadcaster RTBF reported that the statue of St. Paul dates to the 19th century, when the cathedral underwent significant restoration. 

The site was originally home to one of the seven collegiate churches of Liège, a city in the east of Belgium. It was designated as a cathedral in 1804 after the city's St. Lambert's Cathedral was destroyed following the French Revolution.

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