The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in China’s Henan province is a popular pilgrimage site for many Catholics, where thousands have journeyed since its founding in 1903 to pray and walk the shrine’s Way of the Cross.

However, on the evening of June 5, local government authorities tore down the sanctuary’s images of Christ along the Way of the Cross, only weeks after Chinese officials told Bishop Joseph Zhang Yinlin of Weihui (Anyang) to dismantle the Way of the Cross without any given reason.

The Way of the Cross was demolished during the night on Tuesday, said Bishop Zhang, when “excavators and pickup trucks were driven to the site at night because authorities feared there would be too many church members in the daytime,” according to UCA News.

Local nuns took videos and pictures of the damages and sent them to chat groups to record the vandalism. One religious source said the Communist Party was making an example out of the sanctuary, saying the government would “allow Catholicism to exist but not develop.”

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the only pilgrimage site in Henan province and is located in Tianjiajing village. It was a product of the vision of Bishop Stefano Scarella, P.I.M.E., who was vicar apostolic of Northern Honan from 1884 until his death in 1902. He dedicated the shrine to Mary, in gratitude for protecting missionaries during the Boxer Rebellion.

Read more at Catholic News Agency.