posted by Xavier Connolly
Italian News Reports tell us that police in Rome have arrested an African immigrant after the man went on a crime spree, vandalising four churches in Rome, demolishing statues and knocking over candlesticks and reliquaries.
The 39-year-old immigrant from Ghana began his campaign of wanton destruction on Friday evening, rampaging round the church of San Martino ai Monti, shattering valuable statues and artefacts. When confronted by the parish priest, he fled the premises.
The attacker quickly located and entered another church, the ancient Basilica of Santa Prassede,which was full of visiting pilgrims at the time. There he smashed statues of the church’s patron as well as a statue of Saint Anthony to the ground before stamping on them and kicking them. He damaged other sacred objects and ripped a large crucifix from the wall.
The historic church of Santa Pressede, Rome (image source: paradox place.com)
The assailant was trying to destroy the main crucifix over the church's altar when Father Pedro Savelli, rector of the Basilica, grabbed him by the leg. “At least that I managed to stop him from doing that,” the priest said.
Witnessing the frenzied attack, the pilgrims scattered.
“I don’t know if he was a terrorist,” Father Savelli told reporters, “but there was certainly a huge lack of respect for religion, a very serious action.”
The Ghanaian continued his frenzy of destruction on Saturday, vandalizing another ancient church, that of San Vitale, before ransacking the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Piazza d’Oro. The damage to San Vitale was the most serious among the four raids, several precious statues being damaged beyond repair.
Descriptions of the man provided by witnesses enabled police to track him down in Rome’s historic district, and arrest him on charged of vandalism with the aggravating circumstance of religious hatred.
The exact motives of the man’s attacks are still unknown and reports in the Italian media refrained, perhaps significantly, from disclosing the man’s religion. The population of the African nation of Ghana is 71 percent Christian and 17.6 percent Muslim.
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