Vandals smashed the face of a life-size statue of Jesus outside the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville Saturday night — only weeks before thousands of Long Islanders will walk the Stations of the Cross there to commemorate Good Friday, officials said.
Visitors to the site on Sunday morning discovered the vandalism to the statue, which depicts Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest, said the Rev. Roy Tvrdik, director of the shrine.
A Suffolk police spokeswoman said the department’s Hate Crime Unit is investigating the incident.
The statue, which is approximately 20 years old, is one of the first spots on a 15-station wooded walking trail that includes a description of each aspect of Jesus Christ’s suffering.
“It’s obviously very sad and disturbing,” Tvrdik said Wednesday.
The shrine does not have outdoor cameras in the area of the statue.
Repairs to the statue will likely cost several thousand dollars, said Tvrdik, who said he will seek donations to offset the cost from pilgrims who visit the shrine.
The walking trail attracts thousands of people every year for Good Friday, which is celebrated this year on March 30.
Tvrdik said he will not look to fix the statue until after the holiday, in part to “show the disrespect to the Lord” demonstrated by the vandals.
Suffolk police said anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-2677.