The Virgin Mary statue burned over the weekend at St. Peter’s Church in Dorchester is expected to be cleaned later this week, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston said Tuesday.
The Rev. John Currie, pastor of the St. Peter’s, will also lead a rosary service at the statue Wednesday at 7 p.m., spokesman Terrence Donilon said in an e-mail.
The Boston Fire Department tweeted Tuesday that they are investigating the incident that has been condemned by church officials and at least one Catholic lay organization.
Plastic flowers placed into the statue’s praying hands were set on fire Saturday night, causing the face and upper body to burn, officials said.
Fire investigators are knocking on doors in the area and searching for video footage, Brian Alkins, a spokesperson for Boston fire, said in a brief phone interview.
Alkins urged anyone who has information to contact fire investigators at 617-343-3324.
Officer James Moccia, a spokesperson for Boston police, said the department’s civil rights team is investigating to see if there are any indicators of bias related to the crime.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Action League called on Boston police to investigate the vandalism as a hate crime.
“The number and frequency of these incidents have increased in recent years, particularly in southern New England.“ C.J. Doyle, the executive director of the league, said in the statement released Monday. “Without jumping to conclusions beforehand, a hate crime investigation is, in this case, certainly warranted.”
Doyle said there have been at least 17 acts of vandalism directed toward Catholic churches in Massachusetts since 2016, including four instances of vandalism at St. Gregory‘s Church in 2019.
Police ask anyone who has information to contact detectives at 617-343-4335 or call the anonymous tip line at 1-800-494-TIPS.