A statue of Jesus was covered in red paint after an act of vandalism outside a Catholic church in North Carolina, officials said.
Reverend Roger Arnsparger said his congregation was meeting for Sunday service at St. Lawrence Basilica when he discovered the church’s Sacred Heart of Jesus sculpture had been disfigured, according to a statement from the Catholic Diocese by Charlotte.
Photos shared with McClatchy News show red paint splattered on the 7-foot-tall statue in downtown Asheville, a popular tourist spot in the North Carolina mountains.
Arnsparger said the figure has stood for decades and “represents Jesus with outstretched arms and the image of a heart on his chest, representing Christ’s love for all mankind,” the statement said.
The Asheville Police Department said it contacted the church after hearing about the vandalism on Tuesday. Authorities are investigating the case and no one was charged Wednesday morning, spokeswoman Christina Hallingse told McClatchy News in an email.
Church workers are said to have cleaned gallons of paint from the statue and repainted it before a Sunday afternoon church service.
âWe pray for those who have done this, and we are infinitely grateful for the support of our community,â Arnsparger said, according to the diocese’s Catholic News Herald.
Some people took to social media to condemn those responsible for the painting on the statue and to express their appreciation for the cleanup effort.
âIf it’s not yours, leave it alone,â one person wrote on the SKYline News Facebook page.
“I’m so glad it’s cleaned up,” commented another Facebook user. “Sad that this happened in the first place.”
Earlier this month, nearly a dozen churches were found marred in red paint in Calgary, Canada, as that country grapples with the “role of the Catholic Church in the residential school system,” said reported the CBC.
This story was originally published July 7, 2021 3:30 p.m.