A Christian man was kneeling in prayer before a statue of the Virgin Mary inside a small chapel in Perugia when five Muslim vandals attacked him before proceeding to desecrate the revered figurine. First, the vandals ripped apart a photograph that their victim was carrying, then they broke to tiny pieces the statue of Madonna and finally unzipped their pants so they could urinate at the scene.
Don Scarda, a pastor at the chapel of St. Barnabas, said the incident was led by five foreigners who managed to flee the scene by the time the police arrived. Quite naturally, the incident has caused a stir among locals, with some lambasting Pope Francis, who is often accused of appeasing immigrants, namely Muslims.
“Migrants, through their own humanity, cultural values, expand the sense of human brotherhood,” Pope Francis had said once.
Even though the diocese strongly condemned the desecration of the Virgin Mary’s figurine, it went on to absolve Muslims of playing any role in what had happened.
Monsignor Paolo Giulietti, auxiliary bishop at Citta delaa Pieve, near Perugia, said, “For Islam, the figure of Mary is very important: she is the mother of the Prophet Jesus conceived in virginity, and the Blessed Virgin is the most holy woman. Muslims pray at the Marian shrines in the Middle East.
We cannot see in this act of vandalism—which as I said is wrong in every way—an episode of religious hatred. It is important not to feed mutual suspicion, especially at this time.”
In the meantime, Francis urged Catholics and those living in the West to refrain from insulting other religions, especially Islam.
“It’s normal, it’s normal [violence]. One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” he said following the Charlie Hebdo massacre that took place on January 7.
Local residents immediately came together to offer donations so that the desecrated statue the Virgin Mary could be restored and replaced in its former location at the earliest possible time. After its restoration, hundreds of Catholics participated in a rosary of relief.
Photo Credits: RCS Media Group