District of Columbia police are on the lookout for any information leading to the arrest of an individual who vandalized a marble statue of Our Lady of Fatima outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. The attack was captured on a security camera and shows a masked man attacking the head of the statue of the Biblical Mary, mother of Jesus, as well as smashing off her hands.
As reported by Washington.org, the “Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States and North America, and is one of the ten largest churches in the world.”
The act of vandalism can be seen here:
— 7News DC (@7NewsDC) December 9, 2021
The event occurred just three days before the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation in the Roman Catholic church to celebrate the conception of Mary in the womb. Mary is believed by Catholics to be the virgin mother of Jesus Christ and the only woman to ever live free from original sin.
This attack is just the latest to hit the Catholic church in America.
Individuals — or groups — have targeted at least 113 churches or statues “across 29 states and the District of Columbia since May 2020. Incidents include arson, statues beheaded, limbs cut, smashed, and painted, gravestones defaced with swastikas and anti-Catholic language and American flags next to them burned, and other destruction and vandalism,” according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The vandalism of churches and their sacred art gives us the opportunity to bear witness to our hope in the Lord whose beauty is revealed on the Cross,” USCCB said on their website.
In response to the security camera footage, Catholic Vote — “community of patriotic Americans who believe our nation’s founding principles are good and true, and worth fighting for” — tweeted, “Violence against Catholic churches, shrines and symbols is happening everywhere. Comedians mock and the media downplays or ignores.”
Violence against Catholic churches, shrines and symbols is happening everywhere. Comedians mock and the media downplays or ignores. https://t.co/7MipW7cCwE
— CatholicVote.org (@CatholicVote) December 9, 2021
“Though we are deeply pained by this incident, we pray for the perpetrator through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Our Lady of Fatima,” Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the national shrine, said in a statement given to National Catholic Register.
According to the Catholic media outlet, the statue is only four years old:
The Fatima statue and the garden around it were completed in 2017, the 100th anniversary of Mary’s appearances to three shepherd children in a field near Fatima, Portugal, with her message that eucharistic prayer, recitation of the rosary and penance would save souls and bring peace to the world.
One on side of the national shrine’s garden is the white Carrara marble sculpture of Our Lady of Fatima with the three child-visionaries at her feet, Lucia dos Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto. On the opposite side is the crucified Christ, sculpted from the same kind of marble.
A paved walkway, symbolic of the thread connecting a rosary’s beads, circles through and around the garden, taking visitors past groupings of colorful mosaics that illustrate the 20 mysteries of the rosary.
On Sept. 23, 2017, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, blessed the new garden, walking to the Fatima statue, then around the path.