Two Baltimore Co. church statues damaged in apparent vandalism

Police don't know whether incidents are connected

March 27, 2011|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

Vandals have toppled a 6-foot high concrete statue of the Virgin Mary that has overlooked Bosley Avenue in Towson for decades.

The more than 200-pound statue, illuminated by a spotlight in the evening, sits in a grotto-like spot carved into the hillside that slopes from Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church near York Road. Donated years ago by a parishioner, the figure represents the mother of Jesus, the patroness of the congregation, whose church dominates the Towson skyline. The sculpture of a veiled and gowned young woman stands with arms outstretched and palms spread open in a welcoming gesture.

"Given where it was placed, many consider this statue a Towson landmark," said Sean Caine, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The left hand of the figure is missing and may have broken off when the statue was pushed from its pedestal sometime during the weekend of March 19-20. Vandals also chipped the base of the statue and destroyed the spotlight.

At about the same time, St. Michael the Archangel Church in Overlea reported another incident of vandalism. The head was removed from a garden statue of St. Francis of Assisi, revered as the patron saint of animals.

Baltimore County police said they are unsure whether a connection exists between the incidents.

"We are investigating both incidents at this time," said Robert McCullough, police spokesman. "It is unknown whether they are associated. Our investigation does continue."

Both statues will be restored, Caine said. To better safeguard the Virgin Mary statue, a monument company has moved it to a courtyard at the church, where it is again standing upright. An electrical company volunteered to replace the spotlight and repair the damaged wiring. The parish is in contact with the original sculptor about restoring the statue, Caine said.

The groundskeeper at St. Michael's is trying to put back the pieces of the smaller statue there.

"Two such incidents so close together is certainly unusual," Caine said. "But we have no reason to think that this is anything other than random circumstance. Vandalism is uncommon in general for us."

The county Police Department is asking anyone with information about either incident to contact officers at 410-307-2020.

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