Three arrested for vandalizing Mary, Joseph statues in Chicago suburb

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2014 1:49 PM

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Suburban Chicago police have arrested three male juveniles for taking the heads off statues of Mary and Joseph in the garden of a Catholic church during the weekend, officials said on Wednesday.

One of the three was heard yelling "Long live Satan!" while committing the vandalism at St. Odilo in west suburban Berwyn. The vandals also knocked down a statue of Jesus and threw eggs at a Nativity scene in front of the church, said city administrator Brian Pabst.

The destruction was discovered on Sunday as churchgoers in the largely Hispanic suburb were gathering for a special series of prayers in advance of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Friday.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, a depiction of the Virgin Mary, holds particular significance for Hispanic Catholics because of reported apparitions in Mexico in 1531.

Vandalism of Nativity scenes at U.S. churches are common around Christmastime. Sometimes statues of the infant Jesus are stolen from such displays.

The juveniles were arrested on Tuesday night near St. Odilo, carrying eggs, Pabst said, and they face property damage charges.

Pastor Anthony Brankin said the parish has received offers of help to replace the statues since the vandalism and that he wants to meet those arrested.

"I'm hoping to meet them and their parents and hoping to see if we can get these boys on the right track," Brankin said.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Bill Trott)