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Damage to Virgin Mary outside a southside church caught on camera

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MILWAUKEE, WI (CBS 58) – Video shows a man violently destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary. It happened Monday night at St. Aldabert’s Church on Milwaukee’s south side.

The shrine that once surrounded the statue still stands but residents have made sure it doesn’t stand empty by filling it with flowers, candles, and even a smaller replica of the smashed statue.

“What we need to do now is come together and pray,” says Father Mauricio Fernandez, pastor of the church. “We need to pray for one another, for our neighborhood. We have to stop the violence”.

At noon on Tuesday, Father Mauricio held a mass outside at the shrine.

Father Mauricio says he received calls from concerned parishioners who witnessed a man smashing the statue.

“In the way that he was insulting people around him and was calling everyone hypocrites, that was hate,” says Father Mauricio.

Parishioners describe the acts as a personal attack against something that was more than just a statue to them.

“It meant a lot to me because I have come whenever I have some problem or issue and ask for help,” says Leslie Hernandez, a parishioner.

“When they showed me the video I couldn’t stop crying, but seeing it now I’m heartbroken,” says Natalia Solis, a parishioner.

“It’s the mother of Jesus and she is our mother,” explains Father Mauricio. “It’s the mother of Jesus and she is our mother. We as Hispanics, we learn that the matriarchal culture is the one that keeps us together”.

The church filed a police report and held a mass at the now empty shrine.

“I don’t wish him any bad because I don’t know what he was thinking at the moment,” says Fernandez. “I just wish him luck”.

Milwaukee Police confirm they have a suspect in custody in this ongoing investigation.

Father Mauricio says he will continue to pray for the man and collect donations for a new statue.

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