A statue of the Virgin Mary at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Norwood was vandalized with black spray paint on Good Friday, the most sacred day of the year for Catholics.
The body of the statue, which depicts the Blessed Mother with praying hands, was covered in paint. Graffiti was scrawled beneath a plaque that reads “To Jesus Through Mary,” on the base of the statue, which stands in a garden outside the parish school.
The Rev. Stephen Donohoe, the pastor of St. Catherine, called the incident “a sad act of vandalism,” but asked parishioners to pray for whoever defaced the beloved figure.
“Please pray for the person or persons who did this.” Donohoe said in the statement, released Saturday by the Archdiocese of Boston. “We are reminded never to take the gift and treasure of our faith for granted but to live it and proclaim it every day.”
In a tweet posted Saturday night, Norwood Police asked the public for help.
“Statue defiled last night at St. Catherine’s,” said the tweet, which was posted just after 8 p.m. “Father is asking for prayers, but we could also use some leads. If you know something call us.”
A Norwood Police spokesman was not available for comment Saturday night.
A spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney’s office said police had not contacted them.
One parishioner was outraged by the vandalism.
“It’s disrespectful to every religion,” said Linda Curran, 73, who learned of the from a neighbor. “I just feel badly. Norwood really has many different houses of worship . . . many different cultures in the town, and there’s never been a problem..”
A town official denounced the act as disrespectful to all faiths in town.
“Personally, I think it’s a very sad thing to have happened, especially on Easter weekend,” said Paul A. Bishop, chairman of the Norwood Board of Selectmen.
“It’s not just about Catholics — it’s disrespectful to all religions,” he said. “The statue has been there for generations.”
Norwood police are “aggressively investigating” the incident, Bishop said.
After learning about the spray paint, some parishioners rushed to St. Catherine’s to try to clean the statue up before the start of Easter Masses. Some painters in town helped out as well, Bishop said.
In his statement, Donohoe said the parish will hire a specialist to have the statue either repaired or restored.
Donations can be mailed to St. Catherine of Siena Parish, 547 Washington St., Norwood, MA, 02062.