Someone burned the face of a statue of Jesus completely off outside a Catholic church in eastern Pennsylvania over the weekend, rendering its features totally unrecognizable.
Monsignor John Mraz, pastor at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Emmaus, Pa., said the incident happened Sunday morning around 7 a.m. He noticed a bright orange light outside before Mass and realized that the statue of Jesus had been set ablaze.
It's not clear what prompted the act, though statues at St. Ann's have been vandalized in the past: Statues of Jesus and of Mary have been repeatedly toppled over and the church's wall was once spray-painted with "666" and other satanic references, The Christian Post reported.
This is the first time the church has reported an act of vandalism involving fire.
A Jesus statue at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Pennsylvania sustained major damage after it was set ablaze. (Image source: Monsignor John S. Mraz via The Christian Post)
"It's probably hooliganism -- some young adults letting off steam or something, because if it was something aimed at the Catholic Church, for defense of traditional marriage, I would think they would have lit the statue of Mary rather than Jesus," Mraz told The Christian Post.
Mraz said the culprit put lighter fluid on the statue's head and then set it on fire. While the individual might have assumed the statue was made of concrete, it was actually made of resin and so the blaze ignited rather quickly.
An empty can of lighter fluid was later found on the ground.
Some parishioners got emotional upon learning of the charred Jesus statue, Mraz told The Express-Times of Lehigh Valley, Pa.
"They were upset," he said. "Some were crying, some were angry and some were upset and talking about the senselessness of it."
The cost to replace the statue will be $2,000. The matter is under police investigation.
(H/T: Christian Post)
Featured image via Monsignor John S. Mraz/The Christian Post