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Posted on May 10, 2012 | 3 comments

Shrine Vandalized

Shrine Vandalized

The two-sided sign at the entrance to the friary and shrine was smashed Tuesday night.

Vandals smashed a sign, a statue, and several windshields of cars parked under a canopy at the National Shrine of St. Anthony late Tuesday evening.

No one at the Mt. Airy (OH) church, friary, and, office complex at the top of a hill off Colerain Avenue knew about the damage until police, notified by a driver who saw the smashed sign at the street entrance to the grounds, came to investigate.

Toni Cashnelli, spokesperson for the friars, said the vandalism took place between 9 and 9:30 pm. “Police are inclined to think it was someone who just felt like inflicting some damage,” she says, “because nothing appeared to have been stolen. Possibly someone high on drugs or something else.”

The most difficult repair, she says, will be the marble statue of St. Francis at the entrance to the chapel. The saint’s head is cracked and his arms were knocked off, as was the head of a bird sitting on his shoulder.

“Brother Gene Meyer, the Guardian, knows a local person or firm who can do the work,” she says.

The National Shrine of St. Anthony was built in 1888, on a former country estate donated to the friars to establish a monastery in Cincinnati. The chapel on the “Holy Hill” was dedicated by Archbishop Henry Elder in 1889, and until 1967 young men lived there during their novitiate before joining the Franciscans. The chapel, originally designed in an ornate style with many side altars, was redesigned in a spare style in 1978. Its main features are a San Damiano cross, a distinctive set of wooden statues, and the Shrine, which pilgrims visit from around the country.

Nothing inside the chapel was damaged, and Cashnelli says the vandalism appears to have been random. The vandal or vandals managed as much damage has they did, she said, because Tuesday was a rare night when fewer people than usual were on the grounds.

“A number of friars were away at a meeting, including Br. Gene, and the Postulants are out of town with the formators,” she said. “Nobody there heard what was going on. Fr. Frank Geers, who has been there 16 years, says he’s never seen vandalism of this sort before.”

The damaged statue.


  1. I’m sorry to hear this. How sad is it that people have nothing better to do than to vandalized a statue of St. Francis and smash a sign and car windows. I will certainley pray for them, because they need Gods love and to know how good he is no matter how bad some can be.

  2. The friars write: Thank you so much for your concern. If you’d like to donate you can at: and if you want to designate it for the repairs, just note that in the comments box. Thanks and God Bless You. (Ed.)

  3. very sad and shame for us, I Roderick Sajeel Lived in Muslim Country PAKISTAN this can happen in our Country but we protect all our Churches and statues until death but this very strange to happen in modern and Christian in Pakistan many Capuchain and Franciscans institutes and houses.

    May the Lord our God Protect and give strength to face all problems.

    God Bless you all.
    Roderick Sajeel Ilyas
    House No.4,R.A.Bazar Sialkot Cantt. PAKISTAN 51300
    Cell no.++92-321-6119588