A historic statue of Jesus on a church altar in Texas was found beheaded and has been vandalized. The attack occurred in broad daylight at the El Paso church while the sanctuary was open to the public for an open prayer session.

According to reports, anti-Christian vandals attacked the 90-year statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in El Paso, knocking over the statue of Jesus Christ and beheading him.

Isaiah Cantrell, 30, of El Paso, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and possession of marijuana, as reported by the El Paso Times.

Cantrell allegedly told police that he destroyed the statue because the statue “should be a darker skin color,” he said, KVIA reported.

The rector of St. Patrick, the Rev. Trini Fuentes, said in a statement that “I am in shock and we at the cathedral are heartbroken over such an unexpected situation.”

“This statue is one of my favorite representations of Jesus—his arms open wide in welcome, his heart aflame with love for us. I would often take inspiration from this image as I prepared for Mass,” Bishop Mark J. Seitz said in a statement.

“As sad as I am to see a statue attacked and destroyed, I am grateful that it was not a living person,” the bishop added. “But a statue, particularly this statue, concretizes and connects us to persons and ideals that are not visible to our eyes. They reveal to us realities that are close to us, but unseen.”

The cathedral also shared the news about the attack on social media, writing:

“We are saddened to announce the vandalism at St. Patrick Cathedral earlier today. The Cathedral was vandalized this morning at around 10:00 am. A suspect came into the sanctuary at St. Patrick Cathedral and destroyed the almost 90-year-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was located in the center behind the main altar of the church. The church was open and available for prayer. A suspect has been detained by the El Paso Police department. The police are currently continuing their investigation into the vandalism.”

Bishop Seitz added:

“At this point, we do not know anything about the person who carried out this assault, but he certainly must be a person who is greatly disturbed to have attacked this peaceful place in our city and this image of the King of Peace. I hope this might be the impetus for him to receive the help he needs. He will be in my prayers.”

“I am devastated at this irreplaceable loss as I know members of this parish community and the whole Church of El Paso will be. At this moment, we will reach out in confidence to the One this statue represented, and I know he will console us,” Bishop Seitz concluded.

Sources: AWM, ElPasoTimes, KVIA

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