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MIAMI – A statue of Jesus Christ that has been a fixture at a Miami-area church for decades was beheaded, parish officials said.

The statue, depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd, was located in the courtyard of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in West Kendall and was found damaged early Wednesday, the Miami Herald reported.

“This is an attack on the church,” Mary Ross Agosta, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Miami, told the newspaper. “This is not only private property, it is sacred property.”

Deacon Edivaldo da Silva told WLPG he found the statue toppled from its pedestal shortly after 8 a.m.

“This morning I found it on the ground, and we presume that it is vandalism,” da Silva told the television station.

“This is not something you can trip over and say, ‘Oh, sorry,’” Agosta told the Herald. “Someone did this intentionally.”

An email explaining the vandalization of the statue was sent to parishioners Wednesday, according to WSVN.

“The problem is many people have many other problems: addictions, emotional problems,” parishioner Raul Bocanegra told the television station. “We’re supposed to be praying for these people. Anyway, it’s the wrong way, wrong decision.”

Surveillance video has been forwarded to authorities, Agosta told the Herald.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Miami said the church “expects the police to investigate this desecration of the Jesus Christ statue as a hate crime. This crime reflects the increasing attacks on the Catholic church across the country.”

Officials with the Miami-Dade Police Department said officers and Department of Homeland Security agents are investigating the vandalism.

“People find peace at these types of places, especially during these times,” Argemis Colome, a spokesperson for Miami-Dade police, told the Herald. “We want to ensure the community that MDPD will look into the matter so people can continue to feel safe.”

“As a Christian community, we pray for those that have done that that the Lord will forgive them and grant them the gift of conversion,” da Silva told WSVN.