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Virgin of Guadalupe mural, St. John and Mary statues vandalized in California Catholic churches

A number of Catholic churches in California, from the San Fernando Valley to Sacramento County, have reported vandalism throughout the month of April.

Security camera footage of an individual defacing the face of a Virgin of Guadalupe mural painted on tiles at St. Elisabeth Catholic Church in Van Nuys, California, on April 21, 2021. Video screengrab

LOS ANGELES (RNS) — A number of Catholic churches in California, from the San Fernando Valley to Sacramento County, have reported vandalism throughout the month of April.

A statue of Mary was recently slashed with black paint at St. John Vianney parish in the Sacramento County city of Rancho Cordova, according to Catholic News Agency.

On April 25, a man described by CNA as a parishioner shared a photo of the vandalized statue. The statue’s face, hands and feet were splattered with black paint. A black cross was outlined on the statue’s body.

The parishioner said the paint had been cleaned off but said the chemical left “some changes to the rock where the paint was.” He said a group of about a dozen people prayed a rosary after Mass in front of the statue.


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On the weekend of April 17-18, three statues were vandalized outside Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Woodland, which is northwest of Sacramento, according to CNA.

CNA said it was provided photos showing statues of Mary, St. John and St. Mary Magdalene at the Crucifixion scene “disfigured with black spray paint covering the eyes.”

A project had been arranged to clean the statues, CNA reported.

On April 21, a man was recorded on a security camera using a sledgehammer to smash the face of a Virgin of Guadalupe mural painted on tiles at St. Elisabeth Catholic Church in Van Nuys, in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, according to news reports

“This is one of our saddest moments in addition to our pandemic,” the church’s website read.

St. Elisabeth’s pastor, the Rev. Vito Di Marzio, led parishioners “in prayer for peace, unity and order in our parish community area as well as for the person who perpetrated this sacrilegious act,” according to the church website.

Sister Angelie Marie Inoferio told KTLA-TV she was devastated but said they’d use the incident as a teaching moment for parish schoolchildren.

“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 is asking for donations to help restore the painting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.