AP NEWS

Virgin Mary and baby Jesus statue smashed at Stamford church

April 1, 2019

STAMFORD — A statute of baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary in front of a downtown church was badly damaged by a vandal over the weekend.

The head of the baby Jesus was almost completely knocked off; one hand of the Virgin Mary was dismantled and part of her face was smashed, likely by a rock church officials found near the statue when the damage was discovered early Sunday morning at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist on Atlantic Street.

The pieces were left at the foot of the 40-year-old statute on Monday morning because the Rev. Al Audette wanted people to see what had happened to the statue near the front door to his rectory.

Audette did not think the vandalism was connected to a sweeping scandal of parish priests across the country accused of sexual abuse. He also said he did not see it as a hate crime.

“It’s not unexpected — Vandals in cemeteries, vandals breaking windows. I don’t think it’s tough times. I’m 87 years old and I’ve seen a lot and these things happen now and then, so I don’t attribute it to a wave of crisis or a wave of indigenous kind of activity,” said Audette, standing outside and looking at the statute Monday morning. “I think it is just young men or women rebelling.”

Audette said the damage was discovered Sunday morning and a six-inch rock was found near the steps of the rectory. He said it was the only rock in the yard and was probably used to hammer the statue. Audette wasn’t sure but he hoped the statue could be repaired. He will suggest to the parish council that it be replaced by a metal or bronze one that is not so easily damaged.

Because of a renovation of the rectory about to begin, Audette said the surveillance cameras in the yard were off at the time and did not record the person who did the damage. Audette said the statue had been damaged in the past but the damage was not as bad as what happened over the weekend.

Audette said a lot more damage could have been done to the church property if it were an “anti-faith thing.”

“There is no place in this yard where a rock of that size would come from. It was about six inches in diameter and whoever did it had to have done it real close,” Audette said.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com