Outrage as vandal snaps ARMS off statue of Jesus outside historic Boston cathedral: Suspect seen swinging from crucifix is arrested

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Outrage as vandal snaps ARMS off statue of Jesus outside historic Boston cathedral: Suspect seen swinging from crucifix is arrested

A Boston man with a lengthy criminal record faces charges in connection with an act of vandalism at a historic cathedral that left a 150-year-old cruc

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A Boston man with a lengthy criminal record faces charges in connection with an act of vandalism at a historic cathedral that left a 150-year-old crucifix with broken arms.

Michael Patzelt, 37, of Attleboro, was arraigned Wednesday in Boston Municipal Court on a slew of charges including assault and malicious destruction of property.

Prosecutors say the crucifix outside of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End sustained around $20,000 worth of damage. 

‘Boston police received a radio call for a person who was hanging on the cross at 1400 Washington Street,’ a prosecutor told the court. ‘He caused significant damage to the cross.’

A video circulated on social media shows the suspect, dressed in green and sporting a large backpack, grabbing the legs of the statue and swinging left to right before losing his grip and careening to the ground.

Attleboro man Michael Patzelt, 37, has been charged with assault and malicious destruction of property

Attleboro man Michael Patzelt, 37, has been charged with assault and malicious destruction of property

Patzelt is accused of breaking the arms off the Jesus Christ statue outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

Patzelt is accused of breaking the arms off the Jesus Christ statue outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

Patzelt's attorney told the court Wednesday that he is currently homeless and was living with his grandmother before she died

Patzelt’s attorney told the court Wednesday that he is currently homeless and was living with his grandmother before she died

Patzelt is said to have broken both of the statue’s arms before police arrived and placed him under arrest.

Before learning of damage to the crucifix, officers responded to a report of a suspicious person who had knocked off a woman’s headwear around 6pm on Tuesday. 

Patzelt is accused of walking into a nearby store and knocking Tashana Watson’s hat off her head as the mother shopped with her 11-year-old son.

Watson said she pushed the man ‘like four times to get him away.

‘And then he grabbed my hair and my hat and threw it. Then he tried to have a conversation, something to the effect of, just shoot me,’ she told Boston 25 News.

Patzelt has multiple convictions on his record, which spans two states. This includes a prior prison sentence for assaulting an ambulance driver.

The prosecution asked the judge to hold Patzelt on $500 bail, but that amount was swiftly increased when the judge asked his attorney: ‘Counsel, is this an issue of a depraved heart or a very sick mind?’

The judge referenced Patzelt’s criminal record, which included ‘seven pages of committed time’ and ‘a 10-page Florida record’ full of similar charges to the vandalism rap.

Video circulated on social media showing Patzelt swinging from the statue's feet

He is clad in all-green attire and wearing a large backpack

Video circulated on social media showing Patzelt swinging from the statue’s feet before losing his grip and toppling to the ground

The 37-year-old was arraigned on Wednesday. He has a lengthy criminal record in both Massachusetts and Florida

The 37-year-old was arraigned on Wednesday. He has a lengthy criminal record in both Massachusetts and Florida

Prosecutors asked the judge to hold Patzelt on $500 bail, but this amount increased to $5,000 after the judge asked: 'Counsel, is this an issue of a depraved heart or a very sick mind?'

Prosecutors asked the judge to hold Patzelt on $500 bail, but this amount increased to $5,000 after the judge asked: ‘Counsel, is this an issue of a depraved heart or a very sick mind?’

Patzelt is also accused of grabbing Tashana Watson's hair and knocking her hat off. He was ordered to stay away from Watson and her young son

Patzelt is also accused of grabbing Tashana Watson’s hair and knocking her hat off. He was ordered to stay away from Watson and her young son

‘I’m going to set a $5,000 cash bail,’ the judge said. ‘If we’re dealing with a mental illness, let’s get to the bottom of that ASAP.’

Patzelt’s attorney told the court that he is out of work, homeless, and ‘remorseful’ for his actions.

The attorney also explained that Patzelt had been living in Attleboro with his grandmother but was forced to move out following her death.

The 37-year-old was ordered to stay away from Watson and her son. He is banned from standing within 100 feet of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

‘The level of venom and destructiveness displayed by this individual is difficult to comprehend,’ Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said.

‘We live in a society where citizens are free to practice any religion they choose, and equally free to practice no religion at all. But they are not free to desecrate symbols held precious by the many faiths within our society.’

The Archdiocese of Boston issued a statement late Tuesday: ‘Unfortunately, the Cathedral experienced vandalism at the exterior crucifix.’

‘I have no information regarding why someone would take such an action. It’s now in the capable hands of the BPD,’ the Archdiocese added.

Crews made repairs to the crucifix on Wednesday afternoon. 

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest church in New England

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest church in New England

Crews were seen making repairs to the Jesus statue Wednesday afternoon

Crews were seen making repairs to the Jesus statue Wednesday afternoon

It has only spent two years at the Cathedral, and previously sat in a garden at a nursing home owned by the Little Sisters of the Poor

It has only spent two years at the Cathedral, and previously sat in a garden at a nursing home owned by the Little Sisters of the Poor

It has only spent two years at the Cathedral, and previously sat in a garden at a nursing home owned by the Little Sisters of the Poor that is now closed.

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest church in New England, seating nearly 2,000 people.

Designed by the nineteenth century Irish-American architect Patrick Keely, the Cathedral measures 364 feet in length, 90 feet in width and 120 feet in height.

In 1860, Bishop John Fitzpatrick began work on a new home of worship after the Catholic population outgrew its first cathedral on Franklin Street.

The American Civil War stalled the project before it was completed in 1875. 

The Gothic Revival building makes use of local Roxbury puddingstone and gray limestone. The Cathedral also houses the largest-ever organ built by the Hook and Hastings Company.

Its website encourages people to ‘come worship, serve and minister with us, discover and engage our living history on Washington Street.’

Patzelt is due back in court on November 30. 

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