PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A place known for sanctuary and peace turned into a crime scene early Saturday evening after an act of vandalism was discovered.
Someone went into the Catholic Our Lady of the Rosary parish off Wickenden Street in Providence, smashed the custom, hand-crafted pulpit, and took 15 rosary beads off the statues located inside.
The vandals also debased another statue before taking off.
Father Joseph Escobar is the residing priest, and he says this act of vandalism is a first in the church’s 129-year history.
“I was shocked because we’ve never had an act of violence or vandalism in the church,” Escobar told Eyewitness News. “So there was some purposeful things done that was disrespectful.”
The church still held its 5 p.m. Saturday Mass as scheduled, with parishioners witnessing the destruction as they entered the church.
“This particular block is a very serene block,” says William Donley, who normally reads announcements during Mass from the vandalized pulpit. “You can become complacent and forget that criminals or other dangerous people are lurking around the area.”
Providence Police responded to the church today after afternoon Mass to dust for fingerprints and begin their investigation, which is still ongoing.
Father Escobar said he plans to take new security measures to protect the church, by opening the front doors later and investing in security cameras. The church is located near India Point Park, where the city’s Independence Day fireworks display was set to happen later Saturday evening.