Members of a Catholic church in Northern Virginia entered a church garden and found a decapitated statue of the Virgin Mary.
Several statues were defaced outside the Catholic Church of the Nativity in Burke, Virginia.
Father Bob Cilinski addressed the parish in a message Wednesday.
“I am so saddened by this act of disrespect and destruction of property. The damaged statues are images of the Blessed Mother and the children she appeared to at Fatima,” he wrote.
The photos show the severed heads and hands of the figures.
Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington released a statement.
“The vandalism of a statue of Our Blessed Mother at the Church of the Nativity is a tragic and senseless degradation of the sacred. Mary is a symbol of peace in a world that needs her more than ever. I ask that d ‘Others join me in praying for the perpetrator, for any motive behind such an act reflects a troubled soul in need of Our Lord,’ he said.
Parishioners said Thursday they were heartbroken by the destruction.
“It just makes you sick — sick to your stomach,” Nancy Stone said.
Jeff McKay, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, also condemned the vandalism.
“Under all circumstances, we reject this hateful action, and I can assure you that we will continue to make Fairfax County a safe community for all,” he said in a statement.
A Fairfax County Police investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police.
The statues cannot be repaired and efforts to replace them will begin, Cilinski said.
He shared with the congregation a photo of the church grotto earlier this month, after heavy snowfall.
“Let this be a cherished image of healing and peace on this day of darkness for us,” he wrote.
Last month in DC, a masked man used a hammer to smash a statue at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.