WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — A Virgin Mary statue at the center of a public debate was destroyed by vandals in West Springfield. It was located on a traffic island off of Route 20. The vandalism is the latest twist in a four month controversy.
Back in May, the Town of West Springfield made Antonio Liquori remove his statue of the Virgin Mary from the traffic island he decorates. The mayor said religious artifacts could not be on public property. Antonio was crushed, and many others were too, so a few weeks later it was allowed to return.
“I was really really happy to bring the Madonna,” Liquori told ABC40 back in May, surrounded by a crowd of well-wishers and worshipers.
For a few months, the statue sat peacefully, until vandals smashed it to pieces last month.
“I think it’s a wrong thing to do,” Liquori said. “If you don’t like to watch that statue, which it doesn’t bother anybody or doesn’t hurt anybody, just to look the other way.”
Liquori thinks vandals struck between August 6th and August 12th. He was on vacation in Italy, however, and didn’t see it for several weeks. The statue had been surrounded by 150 pounds of cement. After smashing it, the vandals left only a few small pieces of the statue at the site.
“If you got the time we can sit down and we can talk about this issue, because it’s not about religion,” Liquori said. ” That statue, it represents the love and the peace in the families.”
Liquori adds that before they put a new statue onto the island, they will make sure there are security measures in place, possibly adding cameras.
In the meantime, he’s placed a painting of the Virgin Mary on the island, hoping whoever caused heartache for the second time this this year will come forward to replace the statue.
West Springfield police are investigating. If you have any information, call 413-263-3210 and ask to speak to the detective bureau.