Tia Lynn Ivey
The Madison police department is investigating the vandalism of a religious statue outside of St. James Catholic Church in Madison.
On June 5, Father Randy Maddox reported to police that the church’s outdoor statue of Saint Mary was purposely vandalized. The $2,200 Italian marble statue was found knocked over and crumbled on the ground.
Wes Thompson, detective for the City of Madison, said the investigation has hit a dead end.
“We have zero leads as to who did this,” said Thompson. “There is no video surveillance or witnesses.”
Despite no witnesses, Thompson believes the incident was purposeful.
“It was a heavy statue and it looks like someone definitely pushed it over,” said Thompson. “I can’t imagine that it would just topple over like that on its own. It could have been some kids, but we’d like to know who did this.”
The statue depicted Saint Mary looking solemn yet welcoming, with a soft face and open hands. The statue was nestled between benches and a church garden on a hill outside of St. James Catholic Church.
One of the parishioners, Sally Hoge, donated the statue to St. James Catholic Church in 1998 in memory of her father who passed away that year.
“This is very personal to me,” said Hoge. “I feel like someone took a little piece of my heart. I’ve been just heartbroken over this.”
Hoge had the idea to erect the statue of Saint Mary outside to give members a place to pray at anytime.
“Back then, we were just a small missions church and the church was not open all of the time like it is now. When my father died, I really wanted a quiet place to go and talk to God,” explained Hoge.
After Hoge donated the statue, church leaders and parishioners worked together to create a serene environment for the Saint Mary statue.
“One of the deacons at the time, Bert Berding, built an entire shrine around her and we eventually make a garden around her with benches. It was such a beautiful, quiet place to pray,” said Hoge. “A lot of love went into the creation of that place around the Saint Mary statue.”
Karen Wibell, another member of St. James Catholic Church, was also upset by the news of the statue’s vandalism.
“It was a quiet place for reflection and prayer,” said Wibell. “It was heart-breaking to learn what happened to that beautiful statue.”
Hoge is working with the church on replacing the statue and looking into getting security cameras.
“We are looking at a full replacement. The people who did this really must have worked hard to get the statue off the pedestal because it’s a very heavy statue, several hundred pounds.”
According to Hoge, when the statue was pushed over, it landed on St. Mary’s neck, shattering parts of the statue’s head.
“It took me a while to find all the pieces,” lamented Hoge. “It’s just terrible for someone to do this kind of destruction.I really hope the police find whoever did this.”
Thompson is continuing to look into the matter. If anyone has any information about the vandalism, contact the Madison Police Department, located at 160 North Main Street in Madison, at (706) 342-1275.