Soon afterward the man entered another church full of visiting pilgrims, the ancient Basilica of Santa Prassede, where he demolished the statues of the church’s patron as well as a statue of Saint Anthony, throwing them to the ground and then stamping on them and kicking them. He overturned other sacred objects as well, ripping a large crucifix from the wall. The assailant was on his way to destroy the crucifix on the altar when Father Pedro Savelli, rector of the Basilica, grabbed him by the leg.
“At least that I managed to stop him from doing that,” the priest said.
Witnessing the frenzied attack, the pilgrims scattered everywhere. “I don’t know if he was a terrorist,” Father Savelli said, “but there was certainly a huge lack of respect for religion, a very serious action.”
Based on descriptions provided by witnesses, police were able to track the man down in Rome’s historic district, and arrested him on charged of vandalism with the aggravating circumstance of religious hatred.
The exact motives of the man’s attacks are still unknown and reports in the Italian media refrained from disclosing the man’s religion. The population of the African nation of Ghana is 71 percent Christian and 17.6 percent Muslim.
During his last assault the man was wounded in the foot, so was taken to the hospital for bandaging before continuing on to Rome’s Regina Coeli prison.