A 90-year-old statue in El Paso’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral was destroyed by a vandal on Tuesday morning.

A suspect has been detained by El Paso police, and an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

“I am in shock and we at the Cathedral are heartbroken over such an unexpected situation,” said Father Trini Fuentes, the cathedral rector.

The statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was located in the center behind the main altar of the church, was attacked at around 10 am, when the church was open for private prayer.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral prior to the Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus being destroyed in an act of vandalism. (Credit:: Catholic Diocese of El Paso.)

“This statue is one of my favorite representations of Jesus—his arms open wide in welcome, his heart aflame with love for us. I would often take inspiration from this image as I prepared for Mass,” Bishop Mark Seitz said in a statement.

“As sad as I am to see a statue attacked and destroyed, I am grateful that it was not a living person. 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,” he added.

The destroyed statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in El Paso, Sept. 15, 2020. (Credit: Diocese of El Paso.)

“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,” Seitz said.

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

The cathedral scheduled votive Masses for the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Wednesday.

The cathedral was a victim of an arson attack on May 13, 2019; one of three such attacks on Catholic churches in the city that year. No suspects have been arrested in those incidents.