For almost a century, the Sacred Heart of Jesus image greeted people as they entered St. Patrick’s Cathedral in El Paso, Texas. Vandals attacked the church on Monday, knocking over and beheading Jesus Christ, who had been standing guard at the church entrance for centuries. The assault occurred in broad daylight while the El Paso church was open to the public during an open prayer session inside.

The assault has yet to be solved, and the attacker’s motivation is unknown. However, as some individuals have claimed Christianity to be a religion that promotes white supremacy views among Americans, police are exploring links to “white supremacy.”

During an open prayer session, Bishop Seitz was shocked when someone damaged the Jesus statue in the cathedral.

“This statue is one of my favorite representations of Jesus—his arms open wide in welcome, his heart aflame with love for us,” he said via an Instagram post. “I would often take inspiration from this image as I prepared for Mass.”

The cathedral also tweeted about the incident, stating:

“We are saddened to announce the vandalism at St. Patrick Cathedral earlier today. The Cathedral was vandalized this morning at around 10:00 am. A suspect came into the sanctuary at St. Patrick Cathedral and destroyed the almost 90-year-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was located in the center behind the main altar of the church. The church was open and available for prayer. A suspect has been detained by the El Paso Police department. The police are currently continuing their investigation into the vandalism.”

The Rector of St. Patrick Cathedral, Fr. Trini Fuentes, wrote, “I am in shock, and we at the Cathedral are heartbroken over such an unexpected situation.”

“As sad as I am to see a statue attacked and destroyed, I am grateful that it was not a living person,” Bishop Seitz continued. “But a statue, particularly this statue, concretizes and connects us to persons and ideals that are not visible to our eyes. They reveal to us realities that are close to us but unseen.”

“At this point, we do not know anything about the person who carried out this assault, but he certainly must be a person who is greatly disturbed to have attacked this peaceful place in our city and this image of the King of Peace. I hope this might be the impetus for him to receive the help he needs. He will be in my prayers,” Bishop Seitz continued.

“I am devastated at this irreplaceable loss as I know members of this parish community and the whole Church of El Paso will be. At this moment, we will reach out in confidence to the One this statue represented, and I know he will console us,” said Bishop Seitz.

Isaiah Cantrell, a 30-year-old resident of Colorado Springs, was charged with criminal mischief and possession of marijuana in connection to the vandalism. He was arrested by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.