A man has been arrested and charged with vandalizing a statue of Jesus outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. Michael Patzelt, 38, of Attleboro, pleaded not guilty to several charges including malicious destruction of property at his arraignment in Boston Municipal Court on Wednesday. He was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail.
The incident occurred on Tuesday evening when witnesses saw a man, identified as Patzelt, dressed in all green and wearing a backpack attempting to pull down the statue of the crucifixion outside the church on Washington Street in the South End. In a cell phone video, the man can be seen attempting to break the arms off the statue before swinging on it. He also allegedly knocked off a woman's hat and told her to shoot him before climbing onto the crucifix and causing damage.
According to Assistant District Attorney Samuel Jones, the incident caused an estimated $20,000 in damage to the 150-year-old cross. Jones also revealed that Patzelt has a history of convictions in Massachusetts and a criminal record in Florida and Rhode Island.
Patzelt's attorney stated that her client is currently out of work and homeless and is "remorseful" for his actions. She also claimed that he did not mean to cause harm to the cross.
This wasn't in some other country. This was here in the United States
Man arrested after crucifix at Boston cathedral vandalized, Jesus’ arms broken offhttps://t.co/kIU9FwI2a9
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) October 25, 2023
The community has been left shocked and saddened by the incident. The Archdiocese of Boston released a statement saying, "Unfortunately, the Cathedral experienced vandalism at the exterior crucifix. I have no information regarding why someone would take such an action. It's now in the capable hands of the BPD. The Archdiocese will work with the Cathedral to assess the damage."
Neighbors and parishioners have also expressed their disbelief and outrage at the vandalism. Many visited the church on Wednesday morning to see the damage for themselves. Crews have already started repairs on the broken cross.
Witnesses say that when they saw the man damaging the statue, they yelled at him to stop, but he did not respond. A witness called the police and Patzelt was taken into custody on Wednesday morning.
The motive behind the vandalism is still unclear, and community members are left wondering why someone would commit such an act. "I can't imagine why anybody would want to do this, considering what's going on in the world right now, it's just so sad," said a neighbor, Tom Ponti.
The judge ordered Patzelt to stay away from the cathedral and witnesses, and the court will assist him in paying for a mental health evaluation. He is due back in court on November 30.
The Catholic community is deeply disturbed by this act of vandalism and hopes that the perpetrator will receive appropriate punishment for his actions. The statue of Jesus holds a special and sacred place for the church and its members, and its desecration is a blow to their faith. The community is grateful for the swift response of the Boston Police Department in apprehending the suspect and starting repairs on the damaged statue.