Lehigh Valley

Defaced Jesus statue replaced at Emmaus church

New Jesus Christ statue installed at Emmaus church

EMMAUS, Pa. - Call it a "resurrection."  A Lehigh Co. church once again has a statue of Jesus, six months after vandals destroyed its last one.

If you're looking for some divine inspiration, head over to St. Ann's Catholic Church in Emmaus.

"I'm so excited about it," said parishoner Patty Kropf.  "It's great."

At St. Ann's, Jesus has risen from the ashes.

"Glad it's back," said parishioner Maryann Zaia.

The church just installed a new statue of Jesus, after teenaged vandals burned its old statue back in February.

"The statue was resin and it caught on fire and the head blackened and melted," said St. Ann's pastor, Monsignor John Mraz.

"It felt horrible when we saw that it was all burned," said Zaia.  "I said, 'How can anybody do that?'"

"It was very disheartening to drive up that Sunday and see the blackened -- Oh my God, that really bothered me," added parishioner Irene Opilla.

The new statue is specially designed to prevent vandalism.

"This statue is white granite," said Mraz.  "We've picked a statue where the arms were not extended because they can easily be broken off."

There is a silver lining to this story.  Churches are all about redemption, and this story has quite a redemption tale.

"The one young man that we talked to the most was greatly repentant and really upset about what happened," said Mraz.  "It was a lesson learned and the kids are repentant, so I take their word for it."

St. Ann's will officially commemorate the new Christ statue during Friday morning mass to celebrate the Fourth of July.

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