Virgin Mary statue defaced

February 26, 2009

As maintenance crews work to restore the statue of the Virgin Mary on Copley Lawn that was vandalized last Thursday, Georgetown’s Catholic community is working to come to grips with the defacement of a holy object on campus.

Lauren Funk (SFS ’10), President of the Catholic Daughters, found out about the incident on Thursday night in an e-mail that was sent out to Catholic student leaders from the Director of the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy, Catherine Heinhold.

“I don’t think it was until I saw it that it really started to bother me,” Funk said. “It’s very visually disturbing for a lot of people to see.”

Because only the statue’s face was painted black, Funk said she believes the defacement was a deliberate act of vandalism. Talk among her friends has ranged from speculation that someone was trying to turn the statue into a black Madonna to a malicious anti-Catholic hate-crime to simple drunken vandalism, and she doesn’t think the University will ever know what the vandal’s intentions were.

An e-mail was sent out to the entire campus community Sunday evening, saying that the administration, “[does] not know the motivation of the person or persons who painted the face, nor whether they are members of the University community or not,” but that the Department of Public Safety was investigating the incident and renovation was already underway.

In an effort to respond to the incident in “a positive way,” Funk, along with the Knights of Columbus, has organized a 24-hour vigil that will take place this Thursday and Friday.

According to DPS Assistant Director Morris Britt, the investigation of the incident is ongoing, and DPS has not yet determined who is responsible for the vandalism.

Kevin O’Brien, S.J., the Executive Director of Campus Ministries, said the University hopes to have the statue fully restored by Monday. When the restoration is complete, Campus Ministry will hold a blessing and rededication ceremony.

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