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Historic Pasadena Church Set on Fire, Vandalized Amid Pattern of Similar Incidents

Graffiti spray-painted at a 129-year-old Pasadena church that was set on fire last week resembled messages left on several other churches that were vandalized in recent months.

Evelyn Askew, 19, cleans an angel statue that was damaged and spray-painted with graffiti in front of Church of the Angels in Pasadena. (Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Evelyn Askew, 19, cleans an angel statue that was damaged and spray-painted with graffiti in front of Church of the Angels in Pasadena. (Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Vandals broke into Church of the Angels — an Episcopal church on Avenue 64 that was built in 1889 — before sunrise Jan. 13 and lit a fire in the sanctuary. Using green spray paint, they wrote “Jehovah” on a stone statue of an angel outside the building, as well as the words “Jehovah Lives” and a reference to an Old Testament Bible verse on the sidewalk, said the Rev. Robert Gaestel, the church’s rector.

The Bible verse, 2 Kings 19:35, reads: “And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.”

The same verse was spray-painted at Ancient Church of the East Mar Shaleeta Parish, an Assyrian church in San Fernando, in a November 2016 incident that the Assyrian American Assn. of Southern California called a hate crime.