Two parishes in the Diocese of Sacramento suffered similar acts of vandalism in the past two weeks.
On the weekend of April 17-18, three statues were vandalized outside Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Woodland, California. In photos sent by parishioner Duke Sancho to CNA, what appear to be statues of Mary, St. John, and St. Mary Magdalene at the crucifixion scene are each disfigured with black spray paint covering the eyes.
Sancho told CNA that a parish men’s fraternity and the pastor Fr. Jonathan Molina organized a project to clean the statues.
Elsewhere in the diocese, a statue of Mary was defaced with black spray paint at Saint John Vianney parish in Rancho Cordova. In an April 25 tweet, a parishioner posted a photo of a Marian statue with black paint covering the face, hands, and feet. A black cross was traced down the main body of the statue.
The parishioner wrote that the graffiti was removed with a slight lasting effect on the statue.
“Took some time. The chemical messed with the rock a little so you can see some changes to the rock where the paint was, but overall it’s cleaned up,” the parishioner wrote.
“We managed to get a group of about a dozen people or so to pray a rosary after mass in front of the statue in reparation” his April 25 tweet read. “Would’ve loved to have more but I’m grateful for those that did stick around despite the cold and the slight sprinkling that started.”
The diocese responded to an inquiry from CNA with a statement on Monday. “The statues have already been restored. We pray for any one who would be moved to cause damage to any symbol of faith,” the diocese stated.
The incidents in California follow a series of other acts of vandalism against churches.
In April, the face on a statue of Jesus was spray painted black at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in the Fargo diocese. On March 13, the sidewalk outside Saint Joseph’s Parish on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. was vandalized with what appeared to be satanic graffiti.
In early February three statues of angels at St. Pius X Church in El Paso, Texas, were toppled over and broken.
In early January, a statue of St. Therese of Lisieux was defaced with an upside-down cross, the word “satan,” and a pentagram, at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus parish in Abbeville, Louisiana.
And earlier this month in Los Angeles, a mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Elisabeth of Hungary Church in Van Nuys was smashed in a late-night attack that was caught on the parish's security system. Police are currently investigating.
Catholic Churches and statues throughout the United States were targeted for arson or vandalism throughout 2020 as well. Sometimes, churches were damaged amid mass riots and protests, such as in Kenosha, Wisconsin, while other churches appeared to be the targets of random acts of vandalism.