Statue damaged by fire
The head of the statue known as the Sacred Heart of Jesus at St. Ann Church, Emmaus, was set on fire early Feb. 2, burning off the face of Jesus, according to Monsignor John S. Mraz, pastor of the church.
In an email to The Press Mraz described the statue as resin with a concrete core.
"I had the 7:30 a.m. mass this morning and was coming over to church at 6:50 a.m. and saw the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ablaze," Mraz wrote in his email.
The statue, set before a stand of arborvitae, is positioned near the entrance of the church building, 415 S. 6th St. Snow banked near the base of the statue Sunday afternoon created a cold backdrop for a red pillar candle and a bright blue bud vase filled with flowers. The face of Jesus was marred and blackened.
The replacement cost of the statue is $1,935 plus shipping. An insurance report has been filed, according to Mraz.
James Reiss, fire chief of the Emmaus Fire Department, said by telephone St. Ann Church parishoners doused the burning statue with water, extinguishing the fire before firefighters arrived.
Reiss said the original call was for a structure fire at the location. St. Ann Church and St. Ann School share the South Sixth Street property. Firefighters were relieved the fire was not one of the buildings, Reiss said.
Once on scene, Reiss notified Vera Cruz firefighters they would not be needed. The Vera Cruz fire company often responds with or covers for Emmaus firefighters when the latter company must handle a structure fire, Reiss said. Emmaus firefighters checked the statue to make sure the fire was out. Firefighters left the church about 7:15 a.m., Reiss said.
"Something was sprayed on it and then it was set on fire," Reiss said of the statue.
In his email, Monsignor Mraz noted a container of lighter fluid was found near a wall at the church. Reiss said Emmaus Police are investigating the incident.
This is not the first time the church has been struck by vandals.
Past incidents of vandalism at the church include damage to statues of Jesus and Mary and grafitti of satanic symbols and sayings on the church walls and steps.
The church also has been visited by thieves. A chalice, a sacred cup used in religious services and valued at $4,500, was stolen about 18 months ago from the church and donation boxes placed at shrines in the church are frequently targeted, Mraz said.
Anyone with information on the incident may contact the Emmaus Police Department at 610-967-3113.