Historic statue of Jesus decapitated at El Paso cathedral

EL PASO, Texas — A historic statue at a Texas cathedral was vandalized Tuesday morning, church officials said.

The 90-year-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was decapitated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in El Paso, the El Paso Times reported.

Police have detained a suspect, the newspaper reported.

“I am in shock and we at the cathedral are heartbroken over such an unexpected situation,” the Rev. Trini Fuentes, rector of St. Patrick Cathedral, told KFOX.

Bishop Mark Seitz said he was saddened by the vandalism, KVIA reported.

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

“As sad as I am to see a statue attacked and destroyed, I am grateful that it was not a living person. But a statue, particularly this statue, concertizes and connects us to persons and ideals that are not visible to our eyes.”

According to diocese officials, the church was open at 10 a.m. Tuesday when a man entered the sanctuary and destroyed the statue, which was located behind the church’s main altar, the Times reported.

The statue’s head was broken off, and one of the figure’s arms, along with the base, was also damaged, KVIA reported.

Seitz said he would pray for the man who was detained for vandalism.

“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," Seitz said in his statement.

The vandalism follows three arson cases that took place during the summer of 2019, the Times reported.

Rewards of up to $5,000 were offered in the three cases: St. Matthew Catholic Church, St. Patrick Cathedral and St. Jude Catholic Church sustained damage on May 7, May 13 and June 15, respectively, according to the newspaper. No one was injured.