Man charged with destroying historic Jesus statue in a Texas church, fund created to repair and provide security

Photo courtesy El Paso Catholic Diocese via KTSM-TV

EL PASO, Texas (NewsNation Now) — A 30-year-old El Paso man was arrested for destroying a nearly 90-year-old Sacred Heart of Jesus statue at Cathedral of St. Patrick in the Texas city.

Isiah Cantrell was charged with criminal mischief and possession of marijuana. He was being held on a $20,500 bond, NewsNation affiliate KTSM reported.

The cathedral was open for prayer Tuesday morning, when Cantrell allegedly destroyed the nearly century-old statue behind the main altar of the church, according to a statement from the Catholic Diocese of El Paso.

Photos provided by the diocese show the statue on the steps of the altar, with the head of mostly shattered and arms fallen off.

Father Michael Lewis of St. Patrick Cathedral told NewsNation reporter Tatiana Favela that the church plans to bring it back.

“He damaged the statue, but he can’t damage our faith. He can’t damage our faith and what that statue represents,” Lewis said.

El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz said it was one of his favorite representations of Jesus.

“As sad as I am to see a statue attacked and destroyed, I am grateful that it was not a living person,” Seitz said in a statement. “But a statue, particularly this statue, concretizes and connects us to persons and ideals that are not visible to our eyes. They reveal to us realities that are close to us, but unseen.”

This is Cantrell’s fifth arrest in September. Other charges included assault, resisting arrest, and drug possession charges.

Doris Gurss, a longtime St. Patrick Cathedral parishioner, said she was devastated by the vandalism.

“We’ll forgive this man for doing what he did to us. But that’s the way you should do. That’s what Jesus would do,” Gurss said.

A fund was set up by the Diocese of El Paso to help repair the statue, provide security and help with renovations at Cathedral of St. Patrick.

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