Caught on Camera: California Catholic Church Vandalized

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Currents News Staff

Police are looking for a man caught on camera vandalizing a church near Los Angeles. Video shows him taking a sledgehammer to a mural depicting the woman Catholics consider the mother of God.

“You feel bad. You have no words,” said Rev. Vito Di Marzio, St. Elisabeth Catholic Church’s pastor.

The pastor and parishioners at Saint Elisabeth Catholic Church were left saddened and stunned when they watched the security video.

It shows a man armed with a sledgehammer vandalizing a Virgin of Guadalupe mural, which overlooks an altar where people come to pray and light candles.

Father Vito Di Marzio says the unholy act happened around 1:30am Wednesday while he was sleeping on the other side of the building.

He thought someone was knocking on the door, so he went back to sleep. The next morning, he discovered what had happened.

“In the Catholic faith, the Virgin Mary is special because she is the mother of Jesus, the mother of God,” said Father Di Marzio.

The unidentified man dressed in black and wearing a bright green or yellow neck gaiter, approached the mural and took one swing before hopping up on the altar.

He then continued to angrily smash the tiles that make up the face of the Virgin Mary a dozen more times.

“I was shocked. I went to Mass, and I invited all the people to pray for the author of this sacrilegious act,” said Father Di Marzio.

The father called police to report the vandalism that defaced the hand-painted ceramic mural that was installed over 35 years ago as a symbol of unity.

“I’m not angry. Since the beginning, we were praying for him that he will repent and realize that it is something very wrong,” he said.

Father Di Marzio wants the suspect to be held accountable for what he did, but he also hopes the man will find help and healing from whatever issues he may be facing, saying “for sure, he needs some help, especially medical attention, I’m sure. He should ask for forgiveness, and the Lord will forgive him.”

The church says tiles in the mural will have to be replaced. Leaders plan to install bulletproof barriers in front of it.