Police are investigating the vandalism of a Virgin Mary statue in Gerritsen Beach — and this isn’t the first time that scoundrels have desecrated a monument to the sacred religious figure, according to a rep with the Brooklyn Diocese.
“From the perspective of the Diocese, it is not isolated,” said John Quaglione. “In the last few months, there has been a pattern of attacks specifically on the Virgin Mary.”
On Oct. 19, congregants at the Resurrection Roman Catholic Church were shocked to discover that the ne’er-do-wells had torn off the Virgin Mary’s left hand and right fingers, while visibly cracking the head of the beloved stone depiction, according to Quaglione.
“People took pictures in front of the grotto, which is where the statue is,” said Quaglione. “In some of those photos, people noticed the damage.”
Authorities are investigating the incident as a potential hate crime, according to an NYPD spokesperson.
The church administration asked members of the community not to bash the offender, and to instead find forgiveness and pray for whoever they are in an Oct. 20 Facebook post.
“I just wanted to let everyone in the neighborhood know before they saw it on the regular news,” wrote Deacon John Hardy. “I know it’s hurtful but try to say a prayer for the person that did it and keep all people that [are] gone from the church in your prayers.”
While this may have been a random incident for the Gerritsen Avenue church, it comes after a number of other incidents targeting effigies of the iconic saint.
On Sept. 11 at Coney Island’s Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace, mischief-makers topped over a figure portraying the Lady of Guadalupe — another form of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic religion.
In July, vandals spray painted “idol” onto a Virgin Mary statue outside of Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens.
While Quaglione believes the incidents were unrelated acts of vandalism caused by separate individuals, he expressed sadness at the desecration of the saint, who has become a symbol of hope for millions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“During the height of coronavirus, the bishops of the United States rededicated the country to the Blessed Mother and asked for a cure to the pandemic,” he said. “There has been conversation and attention brought to the spirituality of her, and the role that she plays in the church and in the faith.”
Now, in the wake of wreckage the Gerritsen Beach, community members have come together around their beloved house of worship — including the local Knights of Columbus, who have pitched in to help raise funds to repair or replace the decades-old statue, which has stood tall in the Gerritsen Beach community for four decades.
“We work closely with our church,” said John Naimoli, the past grand knight of the Reverend Matthew’s Council of the Knights of Columbus 5989. “The statue has been with our church for over 40 years.”
The group’s fundraiser, which they started on Oct. 21, raised over $2,500 to fix the sculpture — and said any additional funds would be given directly to the church.
“So far we are getting overwhelming success just from the neighborhood alone,” Naimoli said. “The neighborhood and the community have come out big time over this.”
Those looking to donate can mail or deliver funds to the local Knights of Columbus headquarters at 2882 Gerritsen Ave.