Update: Head of baby Jesus statue found in dumpster behind motelPosted: Updated:
Vandals damaged statues of baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary and removed the statues' heads at The Grotto in northeast Portland last week.
The head of the baby Jesus has been found, but the head of the Joseph statue is still missing.
A Portland Police spokesman says the head of baby Jesus was found Saturday afternoon by someone staying at the Travel Lodge located at 3828 Northeast 82nd Avenue. The head was in a dumpster behind the building.
Also during the vandalism that occurred at The Grotto on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, a statue of the Assumption of Mary in the burial grounds was knocked from a pedestal and had its head removed. Two small angels at the base of the statue also sustained damage.
A citizen called police Friday afternoon to report finding the head of Mary near a maintenance entrance at the west edge of the 62 acre property.
The statues are more than 100 years old and made of Cararra Italian marble.
"To me, I said someone took a sledgehammer to the statues, but they also took a sledgehammer to me," said Father Jack Topper, OSM.
"Because of my love for the place. I've been here for 22 years, so it's very special. And I'm not the only one. There are many people who come here for so many years, their family, their friends, ceremonies that have taken place here. And all of that has been injured in a certain way."
Topper said it was unlikely the statues could be repaired if all the heads were recovered. Instead, he said they will consider replacing the statues, which may require soliciting donations.
The Grotto is a Catholic shrine and botanical gardens located near NE Sandy Boulevard and 85th Avenue. It has a rock cave carved into the base of a 110-foot cliff, where a marble replica of Michelangelo's Pieta is featured in the center. A Servite monastery and meditation chapel are also located on the grounds.
Portland police are asking for help in finding the culprits. Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 cash reward for information that leads to an arrest.
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