A priest discovered the vandalism on Sunday morning at the Santa Faz Church and monastery in Alicante, which is home to a relic that, according to tradition is a veil with which Veronica wiped the bleeding face of Jesus.
The relic is reputed to have been transferred from the Vatican to the Alicante church in the 15th century which became a place of pilgrimage ever since.
The teenager, who has not been named, was arrested on Monday, after allegedly hiding out in the church overnight to cause the damage. She is accused of turning crucifixes marking the Stations of the Cross upside down and scratching the numbers, 666, on the shatter-proof glass that protects the relic.
The number ‘666’ is identified in Revelations 13 as the mark of the Beast, signifying the manifestation of Satan on earth.
The act of vandalism was caught on security cameras at the church.
Jesús Murgui, the bishop of the diocese of Orihuela-Alicante visited the monastery, which is run by a community of nuns, on Monday and said that security measures would be boosted at the site.
The diocese said in a statement that “we are praying to God, Our Lord, for whomever caused this damage” and asked the faithful of Alicante that “the deplorable circumstances not be to the detriment of the love and the devotion that we feel toward this age-old relic of the Holy Face.”