Church shrine vandalized twice this summer
An arrest is made nearly two weeks after State Police say a Catholic shrine in Columbia County was vandalized. But as our Beth Croughan tells us, this isn't the first time.
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NEW LEBANON, N.Y. -- "It's amazing how far people will come from. I mean, hundreds of miles they'll travel to come to the shrine," said Father John Close of the Immaculate Conception Church.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is alongside the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in New Lebanon. "(They) come pray, light candles," he said.
Father Close said it's believed to be constructed with a stone from every state in the country.
But what he calls a focal point of the valley, has been vandalized twice this summer.
"When I found out about the damage, in certain ways it was 'oh not again.' But it is disheartening," Close said.
Friday, State Police arrested a Massachusetts man they said smashed more than 100 candle holders and stomped the candles into the shrine's stone floor. The damage was done about two weeks ago.
"The video that we have of him coming in, lighting a lot of candles. Breaking the globes that the smaller candles are in," said Father Close.
And about a month before two teens, state police said, tried to steal money from the offering box. They were also arrested.
"That was all caught on the video as well," said Close.
The church is upgrading their surveillance system after a suggestion from State Troopers. Close said the nearly hundred-year-old shrine has been the subject of this type of activity before and said disappointed parishioners are doing their part to try to protect it too.
"We have people going and coming from work, late at night, early in the morning, they'll slow down and eye over the place," he said.