Vandal targets St Antony statue outside church in Forest Gate
- Credit: Jon King
A statue in Forest Gate was vandalised outside a church as priests prayed inside.
The concrete figure of St Antony cradling the baby Jesus in his arms was pushed over and broken at St Antony of Padua church in Forest Gate at about 7am today (May 13).
A gift from a benefactor, the three-foot tall sculpture had replaced a plaster figure of the Sacred Heart which was damaged after being targeted 18 months ago.
Church brothers believe today's attack happened as they sang following the Lauds morning prayer at about 7am.
Father Luc Emmerich went outside after worship and discovered the figure in pieces on the floor.
Fr Luc said: "We were horrified. It is terrible. We were so sad and heartbroken by this. We had put it up one month ago.
"We were very happy about the new statue. One month later it is broken. It's terribly sad. We don't understand why someone would do it."
- 1 The Boleyn Tavern in East Ham to welcome back punters after £1.5m restoration
- 2 11 films and TV shows shot in Newham
- 3 Arrests in Ilford and East Ham as police target suspected county lines gang
- 4 Exploding aerosol cans 'contributed to rapid spread' of Silvertown blaze
- 5 Average house price in Newham slides again after record February
- 6 London Stadium to host mass Covid-19 jabs event for north east Londoners
- 7 Delta variant accounts for majority of Covid cases in much of east London
- 8 Richard House Children's Hospice sensory garden equipment stolen
- 9 Plaistow woman shaves her head for charities
- 10 US burger chain Wendy's set to open first London restaurant in Stratford
He added it was not clear if the damage was caused by the same person who targeted the Sacred Heart figure of Jesus in 2019.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police confirmed today's attack, adding enquiries are ongoing.
Fr Luc said a fellow priest may be able to repair the damage, but did not rule out the possibility a third would need to be bought.
The act of vandalism has raised questions among the brothers about security at the church, which was built in the 1880s.
"We are quite hurt about this, but at the same time we don't want to lock the church completely or put a new statue behind glass.
"This is an open church and a place that is dear to a lot of people. St Antony's is a well-loved and vibrant parish. It's the parish of the people," Fr Luc said.
Of the person who targeted the statue, he added: "We pray for him because we know the ones that do evil things are more to be pitied than others. They have probably suffered more than others and need prayer more.
"We are grateful it was a statue and not a human being that was harmed. We are in a broken world. Often it is people who are broken who break other things."
St Antony's announced in October it was extending a £1.5million fundraising drive to restore the church which was designed by the house of architects Pugin & Pugin.
Visit JustGiving to donate.
Anyone with information about the attack should call the police on 101.