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Students facing punishment after Virgin Mary statue shattered at University of St. Thomas

University leaders say it was a deliberate act.

A numbers of students are facing punishment after a statue of the Virgin Mary was deliberately smashed at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul last week.

That's according to President Julie Sullivan and Provost Richard Plumb, who issued a statement about the "religious vandalism" that occurred at the university's Ireland Hall student residence.

The statue, which according to the statement has "stood in Ireland Hall for years," was moved and "ultimately purposefully dropped and shattered."

"This statue holds great significance to our Catholic faith, which is the heart of this university," Sullivan and Plumb wrote.

"The destroying of a holy object of any religion is a grave act of disrespect and is completely inconsistent with St. Thomas’ values and convictions."

The students responsible were identified following an investigation and the release of emails "denouncing the act" that were sent to the student body.

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Those responsible will now be "subject to the student conduct process," while any non-students involved will be barred from campus.

In the meantime, the university is now searching for a new statue to place in Ireland Hall.

The University of St. Thomas is Minnesota's largest private university, catering to 10,000 students at its campuses in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Rome.

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