A four-foot-tall carved marble statue of the Virgin Mary has been broken in two, and is lying on its back, in a meditation garden on the grounds of St. Martha Church in Morton Grove.
"She's broken between the knees and feet, completely," said Rev. Dennis O'Neill, the pastor.
Church members saw the damage on Saturday, Sept. 1, and they believe it took place during the previous night.
O'Neill said he's not sure if it was a case of vandalism or whether kids playing in the parking lot between the church and the Morton Grove Public Library might have damaged it accidentally while playing ball.
"Kids play back there a lot," he said. "If somebody threw a ball hard enough, it (the statue) would go over. There's always the possibility of malice, but probably not."
O'Neill described the statue, which formerly stood on the convent's front porch, as lovely, though he did not know the history of it.
He said he wanted to get it repaired, and received a phone call from the Muslim Community Center saying they would like to help with the cost of repairs.
Rizwan Kadir, immediately past president of the Muslim Education Center's Full-Time School, confirmed that, saying Muslims have admiration for Mary, whom they call Maryam.
"Mary has a high status in Islam--not as a prophet, but as a person we are supposed to show respect to," he said. "A whole chapter in the Koran is devoted to her."
Kadir also said the MCC is grateful to the St. Martha's community for helping with repairs when vandals broke a decorative window at the mosque.