A pair of 84-year-old religious statues were smashed to pieces early Saturday by a woman outside a Queens church, the latest in a disturbing spate of incidents targeting local Catholic properties, church and police officials said.
The incident occurred at the Our Lady of Mercy parish, where the venerable statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Therese the Little Flower were knocked over, dragged into the middle of the street and broken with a hammer around 3:30 a.m., said John Quaglione, a spokesman for the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The statues dated to the opening of the Forest Hills house of worship back in 1937, he added.
Police responding to a 911 call were met by a man who told cops a lone woman knocked the statues over before shattering them in the street and fleeing on foot, according to the NYPD. The police Hate Crimes Task Force was notified about the possible bias incident, cops said, and the investigation remained ongoing.
“Both of these statues have stood in front of the church since it was built,” said church pastor Father Frank Schwarz. “It is heartbreaking, but sadly it is becoming more and more common these days. I pray this recent rash of attacks against Catholic churches and all houses of worship will end.”
The attacker lugged the statues 180 feet across 70th Ave. before smashing the sculptures into pieces, said Quaglione.
A pair of similar incidents occurred within in a three-day stretch this past May, with the vandals chopping the head off a statue of the infant Jesus outside the diocesan chancery in Brooklyn on May 16 in the more recent attack.
An employee arriving for work the next day found the desecration of the piece portraying the Blessed Mother holding Jesus in her arms in a small garden area near the building.
The earlier incident involved the toppling of a crucifix bearing a statue of Jesus, with the vandals also tearing down and burning an American flag on May 14 at St. Althanasius Church in Bensonhurst.
Archdiocesan officials also cited an incident from last September where a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe was toppled in Coney Island, with local parishioners and the Knights of Columbus raising money for a replacement unveiled three months later on her feast day of Dec. 12.