Hands Cut Off And Found Folded In Prayer On Ground: 'It Was A Little Heart-Wrenching'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police on Friday night were investigating the shocking desecration of the Statue of the Risen Christ at a church in the Rockaways.

As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported exclusively, the statue is a familiar sight next to the altar at St. Francis de Sales, at 129-16 Rockaway Beach Blvd. in Queens.

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“The visual effect is what people need to see,” the Rev. Thomas Doyle said.

But they have never seen the statue in the vandalized state it was in this week.

“It was a little heart-wrenching, going out to see, you know, the damage that was done,” Doyle said.

The Statue of the Risen Christ is missing both hands, and had what appeared to be a stripe of paint running across its arms.

Doyle took CBS2 to the prayer garden where the vandalism happened. It was part of the church’s memorial to the victims of both the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center, and the American Airlines Flight 587 crash in Belle Harbor a couple of months later.

It was not clear exactly when the statue was vandalized. A parishioner found the damage on Tuesday, and said the severed hands were right in front, on the ground, folded in prayer.

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What happened has outraged Belle Harbor residents who are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.

“I think it’s a shame, because that’s a religious article,” one resident said.

“I don’t see why someone would do something like that to our community,” another said.

Doyle said he is keeping the damaged statue inside his century-old church to remind parishioners of their resiliency.

“I think that will kind of rally us around; you know, that we need to pull together,” Doyle said.

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