Hate-filled satanic vandalism in St. Louis

From the website of the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis:

Lady sits on a pedestal in a small garden with well-kept greenery and flowers at Gratiot and Third Streets just south of Downtown.

“In the form of that image, the Blessed Mother has stood watch and welcomed for about half a century all who approach our historic church,” wrote Father Brian Harrison, chaplain of St. Mary of Victories Chapel.

The statue, a “signature” feature of St. Mary of Victories, was vandalized sometime late Aug. 9 or early the next morning — the head was sliced off and was missing.

On Aug. 13, people coming to an early Monday morning Mass found the head returned to the bottom of the pedestal, with Satanic inscriptions in red and blood drawn dripping from the corners of Our Lady’s mouth to make her look like a vampire. Father Harrison described it as “a horrible act of desecration.”

Father Harrison said he believes the vandalism is “a satanic hate crime.” The police were notified when the crime was first noticed and again when the head was returned. Immediately, he said, the people of St. Mary’s offered prayers of reparation and holy hour prayers for the perpetrator.


A police spokesman said there is no indication of a hate crime [?  Would they say that if something at a synagogue had been treated that way? Or, say, A Sikh temple?] and that right now it is being treated as a vandalism.


St. Mary of Victories is the second-oldest church in the City of St. Louis, following the Old Cathedral on the Riverfront. The church originally was established in 1843 for German immigrants and experienced a rebirth of sorts in the 1960s, when it was designated as a spiritual and cultural home to the Hungarian immigrant community.

It remains the home of the Hungarian community in St. Louis, and it offers the only Latin Novus Ordo Sunday Mass in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.


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  1. wmeyer says:

    No evidence of a hate crime. Would a bombing have received the same determination? Or graffiti on a mosque? Come to that, we’re on the edge of a time when merely praying the rosary in front of an abortion clinic can be classed a hate crime. Anyone remember the Christians in Dearborn who were warned away from the Muslim festival for distributing Christian literature?

  2. Clinton says:

    “A police spokesman said that there is no indication of a hate crime…”

    Perhaps there is a reader out there who is familiar with Missouri law that could tell us
    why this act is not considered a hate crime, because my ghast is flabbered.

  3. Philangelus says:

    I don’t know Missouri law, but just doing something hateful to a group you hate may not be considered a “hate crime.” If the person had spray-painted “Catholics are jerks” on the wall, that would indicate hatred specific to Catholics, as opposed to a group of drunk teenage boys who thought it would be soooo funny to decapitate Mary.

    I hope someone who knows the law will weigh in.

  4. ckdexterhaven says:

    How could someone do that to the Blessed Mother? What would be an appropriate reparation? I feel terrible about this.

  5. bookworm says:

    “as opposed to a group of drunk teenage boys who thought it would be soooo funny to decapitate Mary.”

    Given this parish’s connection to Hungary, I wonder if some drunk teenage boys (or girls) who have been watching way too many horror movies might also have thought the vampire connection was funny as well. Yes, I realize that Transylvania, the home of Count Dracula, is actually in Romania but ignorant teens or twenty-somethings might think, Hungary, Romania, what’s the difference.

  6. Cathy says:

    An attack on Our Lady is an attack on Christ and the Catholic Church. A group of drunken teenagers would probably sober-up between the first offense – decapitation, and the second, defacing and returning the head of the statue. Whether in ignorance or intent, dabbling in the Satanic is a grave danger to the soul.

  7. jmgazzoli says:

    This church is NOT in a residential area, so a random act of desecration by drunk teens seems unlikely to me. It’s in an industrial part of town, right next to I-55.

  8. wmeyer says:

    jmgazzoli, the second act seems pretty clearly to establish malicious intent, rather than teens acting up.

  9. CatholicMD says:

    Our wedding was there last year. My wife’s family has been going there for decades. There is evil being unleashed all around us. Oremus.

  10. LadyMarchmain says:

    I believe this determination was open to interpretation, according to international Human Rights definitions of hate crimes. Desecration of or violence against a cemetery or religious symbols is considered a hate crime motivated by religion. This case seems analogous to painting a swastika on the wall of a Jewish cemetery, and worse, since it involved the total destruction and defacement of property.

  11. Philangelus says:

    The act of returning the head might just have been someone finding it in the park and not wanting to call the police, so just bringing it back.

  12. CatholicMD says:

    There is no park to find it in. The church is literally under I-55 in an abandoned factory district. It was most likely targeted because there is no one around except for Sunday mornings. The vandals would not have to worry about being seen.

  13. ad Deum says:

    This is the same Reverend Harrison who writes in The Remnant newspaper. Hate the Tradition. God, Mary, St. John Mary Vianney, and St. Michael orate pro nobis!

  14. Johnno says:

    Is there a way to sue the police for prejudice? Even if a bunch of drunks painted swastikas on a synagogue for fu and not out of some actual anti-semetism, or spray painted the word ‘faggots’ in an LGBT community, how would they treat it? This is simly anti-Christian prejudice. Until they catch teh vandals there’s no reason not to assume it’s a possibility because there’s EVERY indiation of a hate crime! But it’s not surprising that hate crime laws don’t apply to Christians, that’s standard operating procedure most of the time.

  15. EXCHIEF says:

    557.035. 1. For all violations of subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of section 569.100 or subdivision (1), (2), (3), (4), (6), (7) or (8) of subsection 1 of section 571.030, which the state believes to be knowingly motivated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or disability of the victim or victims, the state may charge the crime or crimes under this section, and the violation is a class C felony.

    That is the definition of a hate crme in Missouri. Of course we all know from recent examples across the country that political correctness rather than the law often determines how such matters are treated. The murder of U S soldiers by an avid Islamic radical at Fort Hood was “just workplace violence” not an act of terrorism. In like manner desecration of a Christian religious symbol or place of worship is simply vandalism and, it seems, fair game.

    I am saddened that the law enforcement profession, which I served for over 4 decades, has succumbed to being an accomplice with politicians and prosecutors who see things with a much less than objective eye.

  16. jessicahoff says:

    No evidence of a hate crime? Really? Have they thought of send sighted police officers to the crime scene? Do they suppose the vandals did it to show love? There are times words fail – this is one of them.

  17. rcg says:

    Someone cut the head off Infant Jesus in our Rectory garden in Dayton. It was later found by a parishioner later in her garden, returned and restored. I suspected the evil nature of it, but not sure anyone else did.

  18. lydia says:

    When is the radical left ever held responsible for what they do?

  19. wmeyer says:

    LadyMarchmain: “I believe this determination was open to interpretation, according to international Human Rights definitions of hate crimes.” And when did the United States or the state of Missouri give up its sovereignty, that they should be subject to sun international definitions?

    Philangelus, and the further desecration was just an innocent by-product of returning the head?

  20. New Sister says:

    Absolutely right — the term “hate crime” would have been immediately invoked had this been done to a mosque, or any other non-Christian temple. [or an abortion clinic, for that matter]

  21. mamajen says:

    We have two beautiful shrines in my parish–one for St. Joseph and one for Mary. They are located in gardens and stood for decades with no issue. I think it was over a year ago now that toppled the Saint Joseph statue and smashed it to pieces. Fortunately a replacement has been commissioned, paid for by insurance and private donations, but it still makes me angry. The offenders have never been found, and we have no idea how they had the strength to do it.

    The desecration of this statue is even more disturbing, however. Definitely satanic, and definitely a hate crime.

  22. aragonjohn7 says:

    Terrible who on earth would want to hurt the heavenly queen??¿?

  23. Philangelus says:

    wmeyer, it could be that the original vandals cut off the head and painted it, and someone else found it somewhere (maybe out behind a dumpster or in the corner of a parking lot etc) and dropped it back off at the church because s/he didn’t want to get involved. Not everyone trusts the police, so yeah, I can totally see someone of neutral will just putting the head back where they knew someone would find it and maybe resore it.

  24. Philangelus says:

    It occurs to me that maybe the police don’t think of “satanic symbols” as real, whereas someone who uses a swastica is referring to an actual event in history. They see “satanic symbols” and think “stupid people trying to create outrage” because they’re so used to seeing them as meaningless decorations you find on t-shirts or jewelry in shops in the mall. Or what rock groups use to indicate they are cutting-edge and shocking. In other words, they don’t think it’s serious, whereas someone who writes an anti-gay slur is presumed to actually mean what s/he is saying.

    I personally do not believe that, but I have heard a lot of people saying about pentacles etc that Oh, they’re just people trying to make you upset with the shock value. Um, yeah, satanism should be upsetting. But I can see where a group of jaded police officers might see this and think, “Whatever. Someone got drunk and did something to make everyone scream.”

  25. LadyMarchmain says:

    @wmeyer: It can be helpful to have a reference or working definition to appeal to when local jurisdiction errs egregiously. Missouri statutes have separated institutional vandalism from individualized hate crimes, and amped up the defense of disabled and LGBT. Here is the relevant pair of statutes for those who are interested:

    @jessicahoff: thank you for the humor, much needed.

    @philangelus: Kudos for trying to think positively about people’s motivations and actions.

  26. wmeyer says:

    It can also be helpful to remember Occam’s Razor, and that when assuming innocence requires a rather long and unlikely back story, then perhaps the innocence is not plausible. Whatever else may be true, this was no act of innocence, nor of good will. Moreover, were this a statue of a soldier on a public avenue, it might qualify as vandalism; being the desecration of a religious symbol on private property, it is much worse than mere vandalism.

  27. Rick DeLano says:


    Just some drunk teenaged kids.

    Who came back a couple days later with the head of Our Lady covered with satanic inscriptions.


    Must’ve gotten drunk twice.


    That’s it.

  28. Reminds me of events in Soviet Russia when churches, ikons, relics of the saints were desecrated by the godless ones. The pious would pray: “See, how even the Saints suffer with us.”

  29. chcrix says:

    The whole idea of “hate crimes” is, I submit, a scam.

    One is not properly tried for one’s motivation in committing a crime. One is tried for the crime itself.

    Hate crimes are intended to mark certain protected groups. Actions that can be alleged to have taken place against those groups are singled out for special punishment.

    Guess what? You and I are NOT members of those protected groups.

  30. wmeyer says:

    The whole idea of “hate crimes” is, I submit, a scam.

    To the degree that it violates the principle of equal protection under the law, I agree. But if it exists as a matter of law, then we have as much right to its protection as any other religious group.

  31. EXCHIEF says:

    I agree with you. I was a cop long before the advent of “hate crmes” and everything covered u nder hate crime legislation was already illegal. It does nothing more than create “special” classes and allows for enhanced penalties. And, as stated, the “average” person is rarely included as a hate crime victim–it is applied only to protected classes many of which, at least from a moral perspective, should not exist as “protected”….because ultimately they are not protected from the consequences of their choices as there is a final judgement.

  32. Pax--tecum says:

    Sancte Michaël archangele, defende nos in proelio…

  33. rcg says:

    wmeyer, spot on. It’s called dissembling.

    Hate crimes: A folly and cynical patronism. When was someone murdered because he was loved? What justice is there in slitting the throat of a sleeping Nazi? It is as great a sin, and crime, as killing Jewish children. Our laws must be instruments of laboured justice, never revenge, never partisan.

  34. rcg says:

    Oh, and Pax–tecum: be careful lest we be blamed for lighting strikes…..

  35. Filipino Catholic says:

    This would have raised a firestorm of righteous outrage in the Philippines, where the faithful refer to her as “Mama Mary”. (To the best of my knowledge this epithet of hers is peculiar to the Filipinos.)

    Who dares to insult Mary like this?! Being under the influence is no excuse! He who insults Mary insults her Son Jesus as well! Who would not be indignant at slights to their mother? How much more so for Christ, who is the fulfillment of the Old Law, including “Honor your father and your mother”?

    Christe audi nos, Christe exaudi nos. Exsurge Domine, et judica causam tuam!

  36. rodin says:

    Thanks to EXCHIEF and chcrix for telling it like it is. What crime is not an act of hate?

  37. Angie Mcs says:

    It is shocking and painful for us all to see this picture. It must be even harder on the parishioners and the pastor. I am so sorry.

    CatholicMD: there is evil being unleashed around us, so true. In this instance it shows up in the behavior of more than the vandals.

    wmeyer: you hit the nail on the head. I cringe when I hear the ludicrous phrase “hate crimes”, as if some crimes are committed out of goodness and charity. Our language distorts our perceptions, and we follow the media like sheep. Yet certain groups benefit, and relish the power and attention it gives them, and so it continues…

  38. aviva meriam says:

    Thank you Angie MCS for your clarity.

    I too am annoyed by the “hate crimes” classification.

    I will pray for the pastor and the parishoners.
    I will also pray for the perpetrators: that they may experience a conversion and repent the evil of their actions.

    I am also tired of the commercialization of evil and darkness as demonstrated by the books and movies sold. I fear the effects on those who purchase these materials.

  39. Jacob says:

    Hate crimes give status to protected groups, yes.

    But also remember they are there to punish the rest of us for our thought crimes as well.

  40. Gail F says:

    I doubt it was a Satanic crime. There really are Satanic crimes, something many secular people don’t believe, but most of the time that kind of thing is by people fooling around trying to look scary. The thing is, it’s hard to desecrate something if you don’t believe it’s holy to begin with. And a lot of people dont believe that. Back in my secular days, I used to think it was peculiar when people would get upset about, say, a church getting broken into. I didn’t think there was anything different about a church getting broken into than any other place. It’s very likely that this is far more upsetting to the parishioners than the perpetrators imagined.

    Like many above, I don’t think much of “hate crimes.” If these people are caught, they should be arrested for descrating a church (whether they think it’s desecration or not) and vandalism. And if they really did do it to get at Catholics, they should be arrested for that too.

  41. Scarltherr says:

    Drunk or sober, the intent was to terrorize Catholics with Satanic imagery. Using Satanic imagery is a Satanic act. Thoughts lead to words. Words lead to actions. The simplicity of this truth has all but vanished from our culture. We used to be able to say we lived in a secular world, but the escalating darkness of the thoughts, words, and actions we see everyday has me convinced, the forces have abandoned the secular for the Satanic. (Yes, I capitalize the S for emphasis.)

  42. Vecchio di Londra says:

    I sometimes wonder if this whole ‘hate crimes’ category (which has also been introduced in Britain) isn’t just one more justification for police not to profile, investigate and solve a crime of damage to property that might prevent the perpetrator from doing worse in future.
    I have the impression the police don’t much care about crimes against Christians.

  43. wmeyer says:

    I have thought for a long time that the hate crimes laws were intended as a special treatment. I persist, however, in the notion that IF they are the law, then they must be equally applicable to all religious and ethnic divisions. As, for example in the case where the administration refused to prosecute blacks who intimidated white voters from voting. Either we are all equal, or we live under a tyranny.

  44. While satanic symbols deeply offend Catholic spirituality, a swasticka could be seen by a Jew as an implied physical threat. And, yes, hate crimes are thought crimes and I disagree with the concept in principle. That said, I still believe we clearly have a politically-correct double standard being executed by the police.

  45. Consilio et Impetu says:

    Prayer of Reparation
    According to the CBCP website, the “Prayer of Reparation” has to be prayed kneeling:

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, 
    out of love for us, your sinful creatures, 
    you became man and sacrificed your life on the cross. 

    You deserve nothing but gratitude, honor, and praise, 
    yet there are people, who by a misguided use of freedom, 
    ridicule your Divine Person and the person of your Mother 
    by desecrating your sacred images and call their work “art.”

    We are profoundly shocked and ashamed, Lord Jesus, 
    and so we kneel before your Divine Majesty 
    to beg the pardon of your merciful and forgiving heart 
    for the mindless blasphemy committed against you.

    We are filled with indignation against the perpetrators, 
    but you have taught us to forgive as you have forgiven us. 

    Whether they know or know not what they were doing, 
    we pray for them: 
    Lord Jesus, grant them the grace of true repentance 
    and open their minds to what is noble and beautiful, 
    to what is edifying and respectful of other people’s beliefs. 

    We also pray for ourselves: 
    Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to live like real Christians, 
    so that we may become your unblemished images 
    and living witnesses to your love and forgiveness.

    Lord, have mercy. 
    Christ, have mercy. 
    Lord, have mercy. 

  46. ByzCath08 says:

    Hate crime legislation is a joke. Several years ago at a training class, we had a Rabbi talking to our group about hate crimes and how the law is applied. One of my classmates asked the Rabbi if his mother and my classmates mother were both attacked while walking down the street, with the attackers saying die Jew at the Rabbi’s mother and die Christian at his mother, would that be two hate crimes. The response….only the attack on the Jewish woman would be a hate crime. Why? Because the Jewish woman was targeted for her ethnicity, not her religion.

  47. Bea says:

    Consilio et Impetu
    Thanks for that beautiful prayer of reparation.

  48. Filipino Catholic says:

    I must also wonder if this might have been the work of an extreme sort of Protestant iconoclast. You know, the kind who rail against the Church with Biblical references such as “Thou shall not make graven images”, “offerings to the Queen of Heaven”, “Whore of Babylon” and such.

  49. Saint Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
    and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
    by the Divine Power of God –
    cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
    who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

  50. Juan says:

    I have to say that this paragraph is wonderful

    Father Harrison said he believes the vandalism is “a satanic hate crime.” The police were notified when the crime was first noticed and again when the head was returned. Immediately, he said, the people of St. Mary’s offered prayers of reparation and holy hour prayers for the perpetrator.

    With acts like these the church will grow swiftly.

  51. Pingback: Pakistan Blasphemy Law Southern Poverty Law Center | Big Pulpit

  52. Darren says:

    “Bacon found at NY Muslim celebration probed as possible hate crime”

    I saw this headline today… I didn’t even bother reading the article yet.

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