Bas-relief of St. Stephen the Great vandalized in Suceava just months after restoration

A bas-relief sculpture of one of Romania’s most beloved saints was vandalized recently in Suceava, Romania.

The image of St. Stephen the Great, the 15th-century ruler of Moldova who defended the state against Ottoman invasion, was vandalized just months after being restored to its spot in Şipote Park.

The unknown perpetrators somehow managed to rip the sword out of St. Stephen’s hand, reports adevarul.ro, cited by Orthochristian.

Trace amounts of graffiti were also found on the image that depicts a scene from the Battle of Vaslui, where St. Stephen decisively defeated Mehmet.

St. Stephen is known for having built a church or monastery after each of his victories against the Ottomans—47 in all.

The sword disappeared in early March but was discovered in the vicinity of the statue by an off-duty police officer, a spokesperson from the County Police reported.

Police have opened a criminal investigation but have little hope of catching the perpetrators, as the area is not under video surveillance.

The statue stands 75 ft. tall near the Fortress of Suceava, visible from any central point in Suceava. It is the tallest monument of its kind in Romania.

The monument was originally unveiled on September 16, 1977. It was restored just last year, with the unveiling taking place on November 28, the day of the Union of Bukovina with the country.

His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania blessed a reconstructed crown of St. Stephen the Great last year in August, calling the ruler a “a symbol of the faith, unity, and dignity of the Romanian people.”

Photo courtesy of Dronemaster

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