A statue of the Virgin Mary in front of a church in the Parkdale area of Toronto was decapitated on Saturday night in what was described as a “deplorable and malicious act” on the church’s Facebook page.
Parishioners were horrified as they exited Our Lady of Lebanon on Sunday morning and saw the headless statue, the Facebook post said.
“Before we started our Masses at Our Lady of Lebanon church Toronto, we were shocked to discover a horrible act of vandalism: We found that the statue of the Virgin Mary, erected in front of the church, was completely decapitated! Most probably this was done during the night or at dawn,” the post said.
“We couldn’t find the head anywhere near the statue.”
Francesco Sorbara, MP for Vaughan-Woodbridge, was quick to respond on Twitter, saying: “This act of vandalism and hate is extremely disturbing and needs to be investigated and condemned.”
Aris Babikian, MPP for Scarborough-Agincourt, also responded on Twitter.
“This act of intolerance is beyond the pale,” he wrote. “There is no justification whatsoever for such a crime. I am dismayed & revolted by the insane act. The police should investigate and arrest the culprit/s. Every Canadian who believes in our values should condemn this act of barbarism.”
Father Walid El Khoury, the pastor of the church, said church officials are reviewing footage from security cameras. They have already contacted the police and sent them pictures.
In late May, six of twelve religious statues were decapitated in Sudbury, Ont., at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. The statues are part of a Stations of the Cross installation erected in 1954 which tell the story of Christ’s crucifixion.
David Sirois, with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, said the vandals may have used a power saw or grinder, since the heads were cut off cleanly.
The statues were cast in bronze and will not be easily replaced, he said.
“We’re looking at different artists who could maybe re-sculpt the missing pieces, and then re-braze them onto the current statues,” Sirois told the Sudbury Star. “If that’s not possible, we would basically have to re-pour six new statues.”
Sirois told CTV News that he immediately contacted Greater Sudbury Police, who have launched an investigation.
A reward of $5,000 is being offered for information on the beheading of the Grotto statues.