LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A historic Phoenix Hill church is closed for a few days while vandalism is cleaned up inside.
The incident happened Sunday night at St. Martin of Tours Church on South Shelby Street.
In a letter to parishioners, Father Paul Beach said a man who appeared to be on drugs entered the sanctuary and caused considerable damage to the main altar.
Father Beach said their security guard and police officers were able to subdue him before more damage was done.
That person has not been identified.
The Archdiocese of Louisville said everything damaged can be repaired or replaced.
"I thank and praise Father Paul for his strong pastoral leadership, and I am grateful to Saint Martin's security guard and to the Louisville Metro Police Department for their prompt response. I offer my prayers for healing for the parish and for the offender," Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said in a statement.
The full letter:
I regret to inform you of an incident that occurred in the church late in the evening of Sunday, October 25th. A man who appeared to be experiencing the effects of drug intoxication entered the sanctuary of the church and, before being subdued, did considerable damage to the main altar. I want to commend our security guard David, who was on duty that evening, for his outstanding response and prompt action. The police responded quickly and in sufficient numbers to subdue this individual without further harm being done. I am grateful for their commendable call to duty. While a considerable amount of damage was done to the main altar very quickly, it is certain that things would have been worse if all concerned had not handled the situation as professionally as they did. I am glad to report that the tabernacle was not disturbed and the reliquaries of our beloved saints are completely intact.
The first thing I ask of you is to pray for this poor soul who committed these acts, who is so obviously troubled. He is currently in police custody and will be prosecuted for his crimes. In Christian charity we ought to pray for him.
In the end, there is nothing harmed that cannot be repaired or replaced. This will take time, however. I have been in touch with Archbishop Kurtz, as well as our insurance agent, and we will be working closely together to restore everything to normal as quickly as possible. We take great pride in the fact that our church is open 24-7 as a place of peace and prayer in a world that certainly seems to need them more and more. While these events are certainly regrettable, know that we continue to take all prudent and reasonable precautions to avoid such situations, and our commitment to being a haven of peaceful prayer is undiminished.
Entrusting us all to the intercession of our patron St. Martin, and to St.s Magnus & Bonosa, I remain,
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Paul Beach,