Vandals scribbled what appears to be KISS makeup on beloved statues of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus at Williamsburg’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, outraging parishioners who have revered the sculptures for more than 60 years.
Maintenance workers at the Havemeyer Street house of worship called police at 8 am on Wednesday when they realized someone had marked up the statues to resemble the masks worn by KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
“It’s a terrible thing for anyone to do,” said Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioner Ann Caponegro. “Those statues aren’t bothering anybody It’s our religion. How we feel about them is our business. No one should deface them in any way.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel pastor Joseph Calise urged worshipers to remain calm and suspend judgment.
“There’s been a lot of people willing to pay for the repairs,” said Calise. “We don’t know if it is an act of anger, grief, vandalism or stupidity.”
The graffiti writers also knocked over a different statue and scrawled what appears to be the word, “Mykee” on Jesus’s robe, according to cops.
Police are investigating the incident, which was first reported by Channel 7, as a possible hate crime. So far, they have no suspects.
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Williamsburg), who attends the church regularly, said the vandalism is “infuriating.”
“It is just plain destruction of sacred property that speaks of peace, love, and hope for everyone,” said Lentol. “The thugs may not realize it is a felony and I know our District Attorney would be anxious to enforce the law.”
KISS released a number of chart-topping secular songs, but the late 1970s hair metal icons also wrote several popular singles with religious undertones, including “Hotter Than Hell,” “God Gave Rock ’n Roll to You,” “God of Thunder,” and “Living in Sin.” The band is also famous for its fans, known as the KISS Army, who have donned black, white, and silver warpaint, leather armor, and fake war axes at concerts since 1975.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel church is best known for its annual Feast of the Giglio celebration, which draws tens of thousands of Catholic congregants to Havemeyer Street every July for two weeks of religious services, parades, and music — though KISS tunes don’t get much play.
A spokesperson for KISS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reach reporter Aaron Short at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2547.