YONKERS — Officials at St. Joseph’s Seminary are preparing to try to remove spray-painted satanic messages that maintenance workers discovered this morning.
Workers will use paint removers and power washers as soon as police and media disperse this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone and police officials are scheduled to address the incident during a 3 p.m. press conference.
The vandalism took place during the night, in the wee hours after June 6, 2006 — widely marketed as the satanic mark 666 — came to a close.
Black spray paint was used to write 666 on the three steps leading up to the main entrance of the Catholic seminary. Just above the number was painted “REIGN IN BLOOD.” A large pentagram, believed to be a symbol of the devil, was painted in thick black lines in front of the main door, just where Pope John Paul II stood when he visited the seminary on Oct. 6, 1995.
Two columns in front of the entrace were defaced on front and back. Upside-down crosses were painted on their fronts, facing the grounds. On the back of the left column, facing the seminary doors, the vandal or vandals wrote “BETTER TO REIGN IN HELL.” And on the second, “THAN TO SERVE IN HEAVEN.” The famous line comes from Milton’s “Paradise Lost.”
A statue of Jesus in front of the seminary was also vandalized. Upside-down crosses and a pentagram were painted on the base.
“It’s laid out in a very deliberate fashion, and the spelling is perfect, so I don’t think it was kids, at least young kids,” said Monsignor Peter Finn, rector of the seminary. “It has a satanic twist to it, no doubt about it. It’s anti-Christian and anti-Catholic.”
Finn said that no one at the Catholic seminary could recall hearing about an incident of vandalism at any point in the seminary’s 110-year history.
This is a quiet time at the seminary, as the academic year ended last month and seminarians are now scattered to parishes across the Archdiocese of New York. A security guard is usually on duty inside the main building until about 1 a.m.
The vandalism occurred between 3 and 7 a.m., according to police and the seminary. Police were at the seminary shortly after 7:30 a.m. The community affairs and detective divisions are investigating.
The New Testament’s Book of Revelation describes 666 as the mark of the beast — the devil. But even fundamentalist Christians who read the book as a literal description of an impending apocalypse did not interpret the date of 6/6/06 as being particularly meaningful.
Still, the remake of “The Omen” was released Tuesday, its marketing campaign tied to the date. And several books and concerts with satanic themes were also released.
Staff writer Will David contributed information for this report.