UST students destroy Virgin Mary statue; leaders say act ‘deeply hurt’ community

| March 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

Several university of St. Thomas students destroyed a statue of Mary that had long been a fixture in Ireland Hall, a men’s residence on its St. Paul campus, the university announced in March 12 email to its community.

The vandalism occurred in the early morning hours of March 3.

“This was a grave act of disrespect, which has deeply hurt many in our community,” President Julie Sullivan and Executive Vice President and Provost Richard Plumb said in the statement. “We condemn this act of religious disrespect, are saddened by the pain this event has caused, and expect all in our community to respect our important faith symbols.”

The plaster statue was 42 inches tall and stood unsecured on a wooden base near a stairwell. The statement said it “was moved and ultimately purposefully dropped and shattered.”

“This statue holds great significance to our Catholic faith, which is the heart of this university,” Sullivan and Plumb said. “The destroying of a holy object of any religion is a grave act of disrespect and is completely inconsistent with St. Thomas’ values and convictions.”

The university’s public safety office concluded its investigation of the incident March 12, the statement said.

“The students involved in this incident have been identified and will be subject to the student conduct process,” it said. “Any non-student involved has been trespassed from campus.”

A listening session for Ireland Hall residents addressing the vandalism is expected to be held the week of March 18. Students needing other support are being directed to campus ministry or the university’s counseling services. The university is searching for a new statue, its leaders said.

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