A baby Jesus statue at a Haverhill church’s nativity scene was taken and replaced with a “freshly decapitated” pig’s head on Christmas morning, police said.
John Delaney, the pastor of Sacred Hearts Roman Catholic Church, said he had a mix of “shock” and “horror” upon seeing the bloody head on Thursday morning just before Christmas mass.
“It’s just a really hurtful commentary on society, and for someone to do this sad deed is really shocking,” the pastor said.
Priests told church-goers about the crime this morning, though many had already heard the story on the news the night before.
“They’re heartbroken, they’re horrified, they’re outraged by this act,” Delaney said.
Police asked the public for assistance in their investigation of the vandalism, which they said could be a hate crime.
A replacement baby Jesus is now in place in the church créche.
The Boston Herald adds that the town’s mayor is describing this as a “hate crime.”
UPDATE: Meantime, there was this news from the Vatican yesterday, via The Tablet:
The Vatican arrested the topless Femen activist who on Christmas Day snatched the statue of Baby Jesus in the life-size Nativity scene in the centre of St Peter’s Square, the Associated Press reported.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said on Friday that Ukrainian activist Yana Zhdanova was being held for questioning.
He noted that the incident aimed to “intentionally offend the religious feelings” of numerous people. Possible charges include carrying out obscene acts in public, insults and theft.
Ms Zhdanova, bare-chested, grabbed the statue about an hour after Pope Francis offered his Christmas blessing.