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Stained-glass windows in Duke Chapel vandalized

Posted April 29, 2011

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— Vandals broke three stained-glass windows in Duke University's iconic chapel late Wednesday, officials said Friday.

The holes in the windows, which depict the Magi on their way to Bethlehem, Jesus on a pinnacle and the Transfiguration, are about 5 to 10 inches in diameter, officials said. The windows are about 30 feet off the ground, officials said, suggesting that large rocks were thrown at them.

Duke President Richard Brodhead called the vandalism a "sad, stupid act (that) is an insult to every member of the Duke community." The university is investigating the case to identify the culprits, he said.

Investigators have no suspects, Duke Police Chief John Dailey said, adding that the damage likely occurred during or after an outdoor concert for students.

Duke held a celebration Wednesday night to recognize the end of classes for the spring semester, so hundreds of people were on campus.

There was no estimate on the cost of the damage. Duke routinely hires a contractor to restore the 75-year-old stained glass in the Gothic chapel, and Sam Wells, dean of the chapel, said the firm would likely be brought in to repair the three windows.

"I have no worries that the damage can be repaired," Wells said.

Stained-glass windows in Duke Chapel vandalized Stained-glass windows in Duke Chapel vandalized

Because of the size of the rocks used and the fact that they had to be hurled with great force and accuracy, Wells said he doesn't consider the broken windows to be "a spontaneous act of vandalism."

Still, he said, he doesn't understand why anyone would damage the chapel windows.

"I don't see that this is necessarily an attack on Christianity or even an attack on Duke," he said. "I think the person who has done it is trying to say something, but what they are trying to say is a mystery to me. It could perhaps even be a mystery to them."

Lauren Sims, a student at the Duke Divinity School, said she was heartbroken to learn about the broken chapel windows.

"This is part of a symbol of what we are as Duke," Sims said, adding that she hopes people's feelings can be repaired as easily as the windows.

"It's not about getting back. It's not about getting even. It's about seeing the hope and working for reconciliation," she said.

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  • batricia1 Apr 29, 2011

    i see my post didnt make here that said there was a party on the quad to celebrate the end of classes

  • Skywatch_NC Apr 29, 2011

    So very sad that some people have no respect for other property.

  • ccs1920 Apr 29, 2011

    This incident deserves some active jail time in addition to restitution.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Apr 29, 2011

    Evildoers like this is why many churches started covering their stained glass windows with bullet proof glass long ago.

    Surprised Duke hadn't done that.

    Praying they catch the ones who did this, and cover the windows so they can't be damaged again.

  • bmills46 Apr 29, 2011

    If you want to read all on Dean Wells's statement go here on Facebook.
    http://www.facebook.com/notes/frederick-n-westbrook/duke-chapel-vandalized/10150156714058038

  • DahlingBella Apr 29, 2011

    How sad that someone would want to destroy such beatiful works of art.

  • Hammerhead Apr 29, 2011

    Let him who casts the first stone...oh, nevermind.

  • ginlee00 Apr 29, 2011

    hereandnow99 :
    Methinks you protest too much. Are you the guilty party?

  • MillerB Apr 29, 2011

    @Arther in the Garden, you make a good point. So, whose property is this church?...and will "he" be filing the complaint personally? And, I'm guessing that whole "forgiving" thing is out?

    And funny thing...that church has lightning rods to redirect the immense electrical currents and reduce damage to the church. Why?
    hereandnow99

    Stop trying to turn this into your own anti-religion campaign. This has nothiung to do with religion. This has to do with destruction of a beautiful piece of art. Keep your personal philosophies to yourself.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 29, 2011

    @Arther in the Garden, you make a good point. So, whose property is this church?...and will "he" be filing the complaint personally? And, I'm guessing that whole "forgiving" thing is out?

    And funny thing...that church has lightning rods to redirect the immense electrical currents and reduce damage to the church. Why?

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