LEICESTER, United Kingdom – An altar at a Catholic church in the East of England has been re-dedicated two months after it was defaced with satanic symbols during an arson attack by a teenage vandal.
Bishop Alan Hopes of the Diocese of East Anglia performed the re-dedication at St. Mary’s Church in Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, on May 31.
During his homily, Hopes urged everyone to attend for a few minutes of private prayer in the next week or so to experience the smell of the holy oil and the incense used in the Mass.
The liturgy was concelebrated by Father Anthony Nwankwo, the priest-in-charge of St. Mary’s, and Father Alex Ibe.
On March 29, a young man lit fires in the church, including an attempt to burn an icon from the altar. He then left a picture of a Satanist emblem in its place.
“I was shocked and saddened when I discovered what had happened. When I looked at the altar, I saw this picture of something satanic. My immediate thought was to get some holy water and use it with prayer to nullify what the person had done,” Nwankwo said after the attack.
Church law says crimes “committed to show contempt for the Church” can officially desecrate a church, and a special re-dedication ceremony must be performed by the bishop before the altar can be used again for Mass.
Local police in Great Yarmouth arrested a 17-year-old in connection to the attack.