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Cemetery's vandalized statue to be replaced in 2016

The City of Fort St. John is planning to replace a vandalized religious statue at one of its cemeteries next year. The city confirms it intends to purchase a new statue for the Fort St. John Cemetery through the 2016 capital budget.
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The remains of the Pieta statue at the Fort St. John Cemetery earlier this month.

The City of Fort St. John is planning to replace a vandalized religious statue at one of its cemeteries next year.

The city confirms it intends to purchase a new statue for the Fort St. John Cemetery through the 2016 capital budget.

Earlier this month, vandals ripped a replica of Michaelangelo's Pieta from its base and smashed it to bits in the Catholic portion of the cemetery.

City spokeswoman Julie Rogers said the city's insurance deductible on the statue is higher than the replacement cost. The city believes the statue was valued under $10,000 when it was installed in 2005.

"We have reached out to the Catholic community for input for replacement of the monument," Rogers said in an email.

The statue, depicting the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus in her arms after his crucifixion, was installed at the cemetery in 2005 after a previous monument was also vandalized, according to Rogers. The city owned the statue, which the Catholic Church gave to the city around 1978 or 1979.

The 2016 capital budget still needs to be debated and approved by city council.

A representative from the neighbouring Church of the Resurrection could not be reached for comment.

In an earlier interview, Rev. Venerando Sabacan said vandalism has been a common problem for the church.

In 2012, it was thrice the target of break-ins, the thieves apparently looking to loot some gold by stealing several ceremonial vessels, along with some cash, Sabacan said. The church has able been the target of graffiti, with taggers painting "Hail Satan" along the front of the church the same year, Sabacan said.

editor@ahnfsj.ca