BAY ST. LOUIS -- A priest at Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church said his parish is praying for whoever broke off the arms of a century-old concrete statue of baby Jesus.
The Rev. Mike O'Connor said a church volunteer found the vandalized statue Sunday while he was cleaning up the area, known by members of the church as Our Lady of the Woods.
"It's a statue of the Blessed Mother holding baby Jesus (who was) reaching out to the world, if you will," O'Connor said. "The two arms of the child were broken off."
Decades ago, the statue was surrounded by woods, and a path in between two rows of trees led people to the statue of the Blessed Mother and her child, O'Connor said. The trees are now gone, but the grotto where the statue stands is a place of peace and prayer for many Bay St. Louis residents.
"It's over 100 years old," he said. "That's really what kind of makes it more sad in a sense. It's part of the fabric of the parish and even the town. It's one of those things that has been here."
O'Connor said many people who visit the statue bring flowers in vases. He said it appears someone "kicked around" the arrangements, causing an added mess.
He said the statue would be repaired, and community members have offered their prayers on OLG's Facebook page.
"I imagine that whoever did it was not thinking of any significant statement other than stupidity or childishness," he said. "We don't want to make enemies out of anybody. We pray for those are responsible and try not to let it be a source of anger."
O'Connor asks anyone with information about the vandalism to contact Hancock County Central Dispatch at 255-9191.
"It's unfortunate, very much so," O'Connor said.