Mass. shopowner heartbroken after Virgin Mary statue smashed

A Massachusetts pizza shopowner says he is heartbroken after someone smashed a statue of the Virgin Mary he had placed on a traffic island.

Antonio Liquori, owner of Liquori's Pizzeria, placed the statue on the West Springfield island last year as part of a city beautification project.

But people complained, and the city ordered him to take it down in May because it violated the constitutional separation of church and state. He did, but Mayor Gregory Neffinger allowed Liquori to put it back, pending a legal opinion.

Liquori told The Springfield Republican someone smashed the statue last month while he was in Italy visiting family.

"She was too heavy to steal so they just smashed her to pieces," Liquori said. "Someone has to be very mean to do this. My heart is completely broken. I just don't understand why."

Liquori said he placed the statue only to beautify the area. But the Italian immigrant remains determined, saying that he will place a picture of the Virgin Mary in its place while he discusses the matter with the community.

"Honestly, I don't want to be in the middle of all this. I don't want any trouble," Liquori told The Springfield Republican. "We'll just have to wait and see what happens. Right now the only thing I know for sure is that I don't want to go through this heartbreak again."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.