A 39-year old man from Ghana in Africa destroyed several statues at different Roman churches on Friday night and Saturday morning, before being arrested by local police.
The attacks began on late afternoon Friday, when the individual
entered the 9th century Basilica of Santa Prassede, just around the
corner form the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
He smashed two
statues, one of Saint Prassede and one of Saint Anthony of Padua.
He tried to reach for a crucifix soon after, but Father Pedro Savelli
told Crux he managed to stop him before the man from Ghana did anything
According to Savelli, the man kept screaming that this was “a wrong way of using the statues with the children.”
The priest also described the attacker as an “unbalanced man.”
The church, known in English as Basilica of Saint Praxedes, was
commissioned by Pope Hadrian I around the year 780, and built on top of
the remains of a 5th-century structure.
It was designed to
house the remains of Saint Prazedes and her sister Saint Pudentiana,
daughters of Saint Pudens, who according to tradition was St. Peter’s
first Christian convert in Rome.
The two sisters were murdered for providing Christian burial for
early martyrs in defiance of Roman law. The basilica was enlarged and
decorated by Pope Paschal I in the ninth century.
From Santa Prassede, the un-identified man from Ghana went to the
Church of San Martino ai Monti, where he smashed a devotional statue of
the Madonna and Child.
On Saturday morning, he continued his vandalism raid, going to the
Basilicas of San Giovanni de’ Fiorentini and San Vitale.
In both places,
he destroyed statutes, candlesticks and crucifixes.
His religion, or the motive behind his attacks remain unknown.