Church & cemetery statues vandalized in N.J.

March 26, 2009 3:43:09 PM PDT
Vandals have desecrated two valuable statues in Bridgeton, Cumberland County.

On the side of St. Teresa Avila Church in Bridgeton stands a statue of the church's name sake. It usually attracts admirers. Now it has attracted vandals.

Someone lopped off the head of the marble statue, which on its pedestal stands about 10 feet tall. The damage was spotted by a parishioner coming from Mass Monday morning. The same statue was defaced about a year ago. This time the damage has one church worker upset.

"I was saddened to think that nothing is really sacred anymore. It's really sad to think that people can destroy church property," she said.

"It's a pretty reprehensible act to damage a venerated object, whether it's secular or religious," said Bridgeton Police Chief Mark Ott. "It's not something we look kindly upon."

Across West Avenue from St. Teresa's Church is the Broad Street Cemetery where another statue was decapitated. The statue of a young woman adorns a 19th century grave site. Here, too, the head was left lying on the ground.

"The close proximity of the cemetery to St. Teresa's Church - it's the same area, the same type of damage, probably the same type of object used," said Chief Ott. "It leads us to believe it was the same person."

Unlike the armless statue of the Venus de Milo at the Louvre in Paris - which is considered a work of art - the headless statues in Bridgeton are considered works of vandalism. Anyone with information is asked to call the Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033.

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