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Boston police investigating after Virgin Mary statue set on fire

Boston police investigating after Virgin Mary statue set on fire
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Boston police are investigating a fire that left a statue of the Virgin Mary damaged on Saturday.

Officers arrived at Saint Peter’s Parish Church, a Roman Catholic church in the Dorchester neighborhood, at 10 p.m. Saturday after receiving a report of a fire, the police department said in a statement. Upon arrival, they noticed a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary had been set on fire.

The Boston Fire Department Fire Investigation Unit told police that an unknown suspect had set fire to plastic flowers placed in the statue’s hands, destroying the flowers and burning the statue’s face and upper body, according to WCVB, an ABC affiliate.

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The Archdiocese of Boston plans to clean the statue and neighbors replaced the flowers on Sunday, WCVB reported.

Rev. John Curran, the parish’s pastor, said the incident, which is being investigated as arson, left him shocked and saddened.

"The image of Our Lady is so important for us and our faith,” he told WCVB. “It's such a contradiction to her love. Mary would never desecrate anyone, never hurt anyone, only offer them the peace and love of Jesus. I think that's where it really hits us in our hearts."

Curran said the suspect would be met with reconciliation and peace from the church.

In a statement to the Boston Herald, Mayor Marty Walsh (D) said, “Any act of hatred and destruction towards religious figures is deeply saddening and unacceptable. Regardless of faiths, it’s our responsibility to be respectful towards others’ religious beliefs.”

The incident occurred among heightened tensions over the removal of statues and monuments across the country, including some depicting religious figures. In Boston, the city recently took down a statue of Christopher Columbus after protesters beheaded it. The city will also remove a statue of an enslaved man kneeling at the feet of Abraham Lincoln after pressure from protesters who circulated a petition.