Vandal targets St Antony statue outside church in Forest Gate

fr luc emmerich with broken statue

Father Luc Emmerich discovered the statue had been vandalised this morning (May 13). - 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.

Montage of statue

The statue was only put in place last month. - Credit: St Antony of Padua church

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.

damaged statue

The statue lies on the ground after being pushed off its marble column. - Credit: St Antony of Padua church

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."

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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.

st antony statue

The statue was a gift from a benefactor. - Credit: St Antony of Padua church

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.

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