The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, a symbol of Catholic faith in Denver since its completion in 1911, was heavily vandalized early Sunday morning. At 8:30 mass, parishioners could still see red paint dripping as they entered.
Through community help, the cathedral and sidewalks were almost completely restored by Tuesday evening. According to the cathedral’s rector, Father Samuel Morehead, some mothers immediately set to work after mass, scrubbing on their hands and knees in their Sunday best to clean the sidewalks and walls. Now, the red paint has been almost completely removed through efforts of the Colfax Improvement District, church employees and community volunteers.
Parts of the building will still need cleaning, and the doors will have to be refinished, but the hateful words and symbols are gone.
“We’ve had wonderful words of support and encouragement from the community at large. The Episcopalian Cathedral reached out with support. We’ve had good words come in from the Jewish community,” Morehead said. “So we feel well supported and encouraged by our larger neighborhood, not just our own parishioners.”
Morehead became the cathedral rector in July after six years with a church in Englewood, and said that this was already the third instance of discriminatory graffiti since his tenure. The cathedral experiences regular instances of tagging, like many other downtown buildings, but for Morehead this vandalism clearly went a step farther. He said the writing was “despicable, hateful, sexual and derogatory.”
Morehead says the police investigation is going well, and that the police had collected information from eye witnesses and nearby security cameras from the city and businesses.
The Archdiocese of Denver says that 25 instances of targeted vandalism, property destruction and theft have occurred in Northern Colorado since February 2020. Ten of those occurred in the last six months.