A statue depicting the resurrected Jesus was destroyed Easter Sunday outside Sacred Heart Church in Rock Island.
Parishioners say a surveillance camera caught a man pushing and pulling the six-foot-tall icon to the ground.Police say a suspect has yet to be identified.
For more than 15 years, the white, concrete statue of Jesus, extending his arms, stood guard outside the large, red brick church on 5th Avenue.On Monday, the icon lay prostrate near its pedestal, its cement face turned toward the ground with pieces of cement lay strewn across the front lawn. A gaping hole at the former site of its right shoulder revealed the statue's hollowed center.
Valued at $15,000 to $20,000, the statue was more than 100 years old. The vandalism left it with both arms broken off, a shoulder missing and a large crack running the length of its body.
Tim Smith, head of security at the church, said it was "heartbreaking" to learn of the vandalism.
"That's the Resurrection Christ, is what that statue is," he said. "So from that standpoint, to happen on Easter, it just seems too coincidental."
Surveillance footage from the church's external video camera shows what appears to be a man approach the statue about 9:20 p.m. Sunday. The individual sets down a bag, climbs onto a two-foot-tall brick wall surrounding the statue and tries to push it off a concrete pedestal.
When the statue, which weighs approximately 750 to 800 pounds, gets stuck on a metal pole in the pedestal, the individual walks to the front of it, pulling on the icon until it crashes to the ground. The person then picks up the bag and leaves, the video shows.
"They did it almost effortlessly," said Mr. Smith, adding he believed the vandal likely was battling "a sense of loss, loneliness and confusion.
"The video shows that they pretty much just walked up, did what they needed to do and walked away like nothing had happened," he said. "It was just very eerie."
Mr. Smith said the statue likely was damaged beyond repair. He was unsure if it was insured.
"Parishioners are going to have to try to raise the money to repair or replace it, or it will just be gone forever," he said.
Church members said they now are left to lament the destruction of the statue, bought by a family of long-time Sacred Heart parishioners and gifted to the Villa de Chantal, once a Catholic boarding school, in Rock Island. When the Villa was sold in the mid-1990's, the statue was returned to the church.
On Monday, parishioner Phillip Roe of Coal Valley stood on the church lawn and traced his hand dishearteningly around the gaping hole that marred the statue's side.A Sacred Heart member for the past 27 years, Mr. Roe recalled how the statue was in bad shape when the church received it. After being restored, he said, the icon of Jesus extending his arms served as a welcoming sign for the congregation and passersby.
"To me, it was always a symbol of goodness and hope because of it's fragility," Mr. Roe said.
In the past, no one ever bothered the statue, he said, shaking his head.
"I always worried something like this would happen," he said.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Crime Stoppers of the Quad Cities at 309-762-9500.
Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses. 1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000. 1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city. 1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association. 1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College. 1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.