Man with Extensive Criminal Record Snaps Arms Off Crucifix Statue

Michael Patzelt swung from the crucifix until the arms of Christ broke off.

A man from Boston with a multi-state criminal history has been charged with vandalizing the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, resulting in damage to a 150-year-old crucifix. The arms of the historic statue were found broken, resulting in damages estimated at around $20,000.

Michael Patzelt, 37, was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court this Wednesday, facing multiple charges, including assault and malicious destruction of property.

The incident unfolded when Boston police received reports of an individual swinging from the cross at 1400 Washington Street. Footage circulating on social media captured Patzelt, distinguishable by his green outfit and a large backpack, losing his grip on the statue and falling to the ground after inflicting damage.

Before this incident, officers had been alerted about a suspicious person who assaulted a woman in a store.

Tashana Watson, who was shopping with her 11-year-old son, described the traumatic experience to Boston 25 News. She mentioned pushing Patzelt several times before he pulled her hat and hair, eventually throwing her hat.

Delving into Patzelt’s past revealed a lengthy criminal record, including an earlier prison sentence for assaulting an ambulance driver. The judge, taking note of the extensive criminal history, set his bail at $5,000, urging to address any potential mental health issues at the earliest.

The defense mentioned that Patzelt, currently homeless and unemployed, had been residing with his late grandmother in Attleboro. He expressed remorse for his actions.

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden commented on the incident, emphasizing the importance of religious freedom and respect for religious symbols in society. The Archdiocese of Boston also released a statement on the vandalism but refrained from speculating on the motives behind the act.

Repairs to the crucifix were initiated on Wednesday. Interestingly, the statue had only been at the Cathedral for two years, previously located at a nursing home garden.

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross, New England’s largest church, can accommodate nearly 2,000 worshippers. It is a remarkable piece of 19th-century architecture, designed by Patrick Keely, and features a blend of Roxbury puddingstone and gray limestone.

The Cathedral’s history is interwoven with America’s past, with construction being delayed due to the Civil War before its eventual completion in 1875.

Patzelt is scheduled to appear in court again on November 30th.


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