A statue of St. Mary was vandalized outside a catholic school in Queens, New York City, on Friday by a white man in an incident that was captured on surveillance cameras.

The Virgin Mary statue was spray-painted with the word "IDOL" across it early Friday outside the Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens. Faculty members of the private high school discovered the vandalism when they showed up for work Friday morning.

Security cameras show the vandalism took place at around 3 a.m. when the vandal, who appears to be a white man, runs to the statue, defaces it using spray paint, and then walks away from the scene. The news comes as demonstrators are tearing down statues and defacing monuments across the nation to protest against systematic racism and police brutality following the May 25 police killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd.

'Act of Hatred'

Virgin Mary statue vandalized
The word 'IDOL' was spray painted on a Virgin Mary statue outside Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens. Twitter

"Today, Cathedral Prep endured an act of hatred. We were victims of vandalism against a beloved statue that is dear to generations of Cathedral students," said Father James Kuroly, the rector and president of Cathedral Prep, before adding that the monument is about a century old and "each day, both students and passersby pray fervently for her intercession in front of the statue,"

"Obviously, this tragedy saddens us deeply but it also renews our hope and faith in the Lord as he has shown his goodness in the many people who have already reached out to us. We are sincerely grateful for the help we have received as well as the prayers," he added.

The statue, which has since been cleaned and restored, was moved with the school when the school was relocated from Brooklyn to Elmhurst in 1985. The NYPD is now investigating the vandalism as a possible hate crime, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn. Anyone with information related to the crime has been urged to contact the NYPD's 110th Precinct. Watch the video below:

Social Media Reactions

Members of the catholic community have flooded social media with expressions of anguish and heartbreak over the incident.

"Disgraceful & heartbreaking, I have no doubt the #NYPD will find him, but I hope, that as he touched the statue of Our Blessed Mother, her spirit touched his heart and soul & freed him of the demons that caused him to perpetrate this heinous act upon Our Blessed Mother," wrote Bruno Hugo on Twitter.

"My heart breaks for the disrespect of our Blessed Mother," tweeted Diane Branstein. "My God have mercy on them and send the Holy Spirit to strengthen all Catholics to pray for them. May all Rosaries said this month be for Holy Mother Church and her Shepard's so that the true Catholic Church be unified."