Church Statues Destroyed in New York, Acts of Violence Against Faith

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A woman smashed two statues outside a church in Queens
A woman smashed two statues outside a church in Queens. (Image: HOerwin56 via Pixabay)

Two religious statues outside ‘Our Lady of Mercy’ Catholic parish in Queens, New York, were destroyed by a woman on July 17 at approximately three in the morning. The incident was caught on video. The two statues, ‘St. Therese the Little Flower’ and ‘Blessed Mother,’ date back to the opening of the church back in 1937, making them over eighty years old.

The woman holding a hammer jumped over the barrier and shook the two statues loose.  She then pushed the statues to the sidewalk and hit them with the hammer, stomping on them and spitting wildly. The attacker then fled the scene. 

According to police, the same woman had knocked down both statues a few days earlier on July 14. At that time, the monuments were not damaged. However, this was not the case with the July 17 attack. 

Father Frank Schwarz, Pastor at Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church, told reporters that the two statues have been “pretty much destroyed.” The church custodian had bolted the statues to the ground following the previous attack. However, the woman was able to remove them during the latest act of vandalism, after which the statues were desecrated.

“Both of these statues have stood in front of the church since it was built… It is heartbreaking, but sadly it is becoming more and more common these days… I pray that this recent rash of attacks against Catholic churches and all houses of worship will end, and religious tolerance may become more a part of our society,” Schwartz stated.

The pastor believes that the attacker was in a rage as she “deliberately” destroyed the holy monuments. Schwartz said that he will be calling on parishioners to pray for the attacker. “I think she’s probably more in need of prayers than anything else,” he said. Schwartz also noted that while attacks on places of worship have become “disturbingly much more commonplace”; he didn’t know “how to respond to that.”

The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit and the 112th Precinct are both investigating the incident. The police have released the security video as part of their search for the woman and have asked the public to help in identifying the perpetrator.

Other attacks

In May, a statue of Jesus was smashed outside a Catholic church in Brooklyn. The attacker had pushed over the statue that depicted the crucifixion of Jesus and broke it into pieces and then torched an American flag.

The church pastor David Cassato had called vandalism “truly an act of hatred.” The crucifix statue was installed in 2019 in memory of Cassato’s mother.

“I went over and spoke to the students in the school about what happened, telling them that hate never wins… We are, and must be, a community that continues to share the message of Easter, that which is of love, hope, and forgiveness,” Cassato had said, reported the New York Post.

In July last year, the statue of the Virgin Mary in Boston was attacked. The statue, located outside St. Peter’s church, was set on fire. The attacker had apparently set fire to the plastic flowers adoring the statue. The flame and smoke eventually ended up damaging parts of the monument.

Another statue at the Diocese of Brooklyn was also vandalized the same month. The vandal scribbled the word “IDOL” onto the Virgin Mary statue located at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens. The statue is nearly a hundred years old.