ROME — Presumed Satanists disfigured and toppled a wooden statue of Jesus Christ in Cremona, Italy, leaving a piece of cardboard with the inscription “Satan,” La Repubblica newspaper revealed Saturday.
The wooden Christ, bearing the title “Christ of the River Po” was created by Italian artist Mario Spadari and placed by the river along the Lungo Po road in Cremona on the feast of the Assumption, August 15. The damaged statue was discovered on Saturday morning, having been brought down with rocks and severely disfigured during the night.
Pierluigi Sforza, the commander of the local Cremona police, said that investigators are reviewing surveillance footage to try to get an idea of the identity of the vandals.
“On the spot, we found the stones used to bring down the sculpture and the piece of cardboard with the inscription, made in an absolutely artisanal way, without particular care,” Sforza said.
The incident has aroused the indignation of the entire city and a firm condemnation from the mayor Gianluca Galimberti.
“It is a stupid and senseless gesture. That statue of Christ represents a recognition of the pain that Cremona suffered during the period of the pandemic and at the same time a symbol of hope for the future,” Mr. Galimberti said.
“In the next few days we will evaluate the technical aspects with the artist to think about a new location for the work,” he added. For the moment, the damaged statue has been taken to a restauration laboratory to see what can be salvaged.
The Catholic bishop of Cremona, Antonio Napolioni, issued a statement addressed to the vandals in first person, noting they are God’s children, not Satan’s.
“He gave his life for you and I am praying for you,” the bishop writes. “Whoever you are — angry, ignorant, disappointed, disoriented, intoxicated, arrogant, out of your mind — you are still my brother. You are a child of God and not of that enemy whose name you signed.”
According to Sforza, the act of vandalism against the Spadari statue is even more odious because “that Christ not only has a religious value, it is also important for non-believers.”