LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man used a sledgehammer last week to smash the face of a Virgin of Guadalupe mural painted on tiles at a church in Los Angeles.
The man was recorded on security camera video during the predawn attack at St. Elisabeth Catholic Church in the Van Nuys neighborhood on April 21.
The parish website posted photos of the damage and called the vandalism “one of our saddest moments” in addition to what people have endured during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Virgin of Guadelupe is considered central to Mexican identity and is widely worshipped as the patron saint of the Americas.
The Rev. Vito Di Marzio, the church’s pastor, led parishioners and school children “in prayer for peace, unity and order in our parish community area as well as for the person who perpetrated this sacrilegious act on our Blessed Mother,” the website said.
Sister Angelie Marie Inoferio told KTLA-TV she was devastated but that the vandalism would be used as a teaching moment for parish school children.
“We cannot judge what is really inside of him, maybe it’s a cry for help,” Inoferio said. “For now, we are praying, hopefully that person someday will be converted and realize that what he did is wrong.”
The parish asked for donations to restore the mural, which was painted 35 years ago, and install a plexiglass casing for protection.