Vandals have taken aim at a holy site in Berks County again. This time their target was St. Michael the Archangel.
The National Centre for Padre Pio is beautiful and grand. The peaceful grounds in Washington Township have far-reaching appeal, even for thieves.
"We built this place for people to come visit, pray, look for guidance and to have somebody come and do this is just plain wrong," said Santino Ciccarone, a maintenance worker for the property.
St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of law enforcement, was the victim of a crime. He is still standing triumphantly, but his right arm and dagger were stolen when someone climbed a fence to scale the statue. State police said it happened sometime between 9 a.m. Tuesday and 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"It is disheartening and we wonder sometimes what possesses people," said Julia Calandra-Lineberg, director of pilgrimage.
Officials scoured all 106 acres of the property in search of the arm and dagger.
"I went out on a couple searches just looking in creeks and the side of the roads," said Ciccarone.
"We were heartbroken because several years ago our bronze angel was stolen," said Calandra-Lineberg.
The Angel of the Roses statue was swiped from the grounds in 2008. The 1,200 pound bronze statue was chopped up and sold as scrap metal. Two men were arrested and sentenced, and now a new granite composite of the angel hangs in its place.
Workers said they will not stop searching for St. Michael's arm and dagger and they're praying the thieves will have a change of heart.
"When you come here you have such a feeling of peace and that kind of makes it all the more sad that someone would intrude in that," said Diane Chuck, a visitor at the shrine.
Calandra-Lineberg said she contacted the sculptor in Portugal to try and learn the statue's value, and she plans to restore it.
If you have any information about who vandalized the statue, call Crime Alert Berks County at 877-373-9913.