Residents upset after religious mural defaced for 2nd time this year

New Mexico

It’s a well-known religious mural in a small New Mexico town.

Unfortunately, vandals are also getting to know the mural a little too well, and it’s sacrilege to a lot of people there.  

Monday morning, the owners of Oliver’s Country Store in Ojo Caliente arrived to find their Our Lady of Guadalupe mural on the back of the building had been vandalized — the paint still wet when employees showed up for work.

“People are just expressing disgust and sadness, we’re hurt,” said co-owner Bridget Trujillo.

Oliver’s is a staple in the Ojo Caliente community, about 15 miles north of Espanola.

The mural has been there for more than two decades. It’s one of the first things drivers see coming through town and it’s become a shrine, twice blessed by a priest.

“Ojo Caliente, it’s a very Catholic and close-knit community, and we value our faith and our faith is strong,” said Trujillo.

For that reason, Trujillo says it’s an attack on the community. She’s in disbelief that someone would do this, twice.

It happened once before in January.

“First time they painted out her face, as well as her hands together, and the crucifix she wore around her neck,” said Trujillo.

The artist fixed it the next month, but it now stands desecrated again in an almost identical fashion.

“I hesitate to call this just a mural because it’s so much more than that. It serves as a source of inspiration and strength for people. Not just our locals, but for visitors,” said Trujillo.

With no answer yet as to who did this, the community is asking why.

“To have somebody do this is just a total disrespect for culture, for religion.”

Trujillo said they do plan to re-paint it again.

New Mexico State Police are looking into the vandalism. They say the damage is estimated around $1,200.

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