A woman was arrested after allegedly causing serious damage to a statue of Jesus at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo, North Dakota, on Monday evening, possibly while she was under the influence of drugs.
“We were saddened to see the damage done to a very old statue at our cathedral, and we hope the person responsible gets the help they need,” Paul Braun, communications director for the Diocese of Fargo, told CNA Jan. 26. “We are praying for that person as well.”
The statue, called “Christ in Death,” portrays Jesus’ corpse laying on a burial shroud with a crown of thorns laid alongside his lower legs. Photos provided to CNA show damage to the statue’s head and feet and damage to one hand, as well as damage to the crown of thorns and the base of the statue.
Fargo police officers said they saw 35-year-old Brittany Marie Reynolds leaving the cathedral at about 6:24 p.m. They detained her after she allegedly attempted to flee. She was not wearing a shirt, a bra, or shoes. She was unable to answer basic questions and appeared to be under the influence of drugs, the Fargo newspaper The Forum reported, citing court documents.
Police entered the cathedral and found that a large statue of Jesus had been smashed on the floor. Church surveillance footage reportedly shows the half-dressed Reynolds in the church. She flipped over a potted plant before destroying the statue.
Reynolds was arrested and served a warrant for allegedly acting aggressively toward hospital staff.
Monsignor Joseph Goering told police he did not know the monetary value of the statue. Officers said a similar statue they found online was appraised at $11,500.
Braun told CNA an expert in art restoration is examining the damaged statue to determine whether it should be repaired or replaced.
Reynolds faces a felony charge of criminal mischief, which could result in a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, The Forum reported.
There have been previous incidents of vandalism at the cathedral and other area churches. In April 2021, a statue of Jesus in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo was defaced with black paint on its face. An unknown person removed the paint several days later. In 2018, a statue of the Virgin Mary was decapitated at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in south Fargo.