Unidentified vandals decapitated a statue of the Virgin Mary this weekend at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite church in Toronto.
On its Facebook page, the parish church of Our Lady of Lebanon, posted photos of the beheaded statue and recounted the discovery of the damage.
“Sunday August 30th, 2020, before we started our Masses at Our Lady of Lebanon church Toronto, we were shocked to discover a horrible act of vandalism,” the post reads. “We found that the statue of the Virgin Mary, erected in front of the church, was completely decapitated!”
The parish notes that the “ugly act” was likely perpetrated “during the night or at dawn.”
The vandals apparently carried off the separated head as well because church members were unable to find it in the vicinity of the statue.
“Our parishioners, when exiting the church, were horrified to see such a deplorable and malicious act,” the Facebook post continues. “We already contacted the police and sent them some pictures and asked them to investigate the matter.”
Church officials said they are reviewing the feeds from security cameras installed around the church premises, “hoping to find some leads to whomever had done it.”
Police are reportedly investigating the incident but as yet no arrests have been made.
Last month, leaders from the U.S. Bishops’ conference condemned a recent spate of vandalism, arson, and profanation of Catholic sites in the country.
“In the last few weeks, we have witnessed, among other things, one church rammed with a car and set on fire, as well as statues of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary defaced or even beheaded,” noted Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski and Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley in a joint statement. “An historic mission church has also been badly damaged by fire, and the cause is still under investigation.”
On July 11, a 24-year-old man named Stephen Anthony Shields crashed his minivan into the lobby of the Queen of Peace Church in Ocala, FL. He then poured out gasoline and lit it on fire, causing extensive damage and threatening the faithful who were gathered in the church at the time.
On that same day, presumed arsonists set fire to Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in Los Angeles, destroying the building’s timber roof and sections of the interior and vandals also beheaded a statue of the Virgin Mary at Saint Stephen’s Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing,” the bishops said in their statement.
“In those incidents where human actions are clear, the motives still are not,” they continue. “As we strain to understand the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion, we pray for any who have caused it, and we remain vigilant against more of it.”