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Two Catholic churches in Halifax were targeted with obscene graffiti early Easter morning.

Hundreds of parishioners witnessed the vulgar vandalism in red spray paint while heading into church Sunday.

Parishioner Judy Walsh says the offensive graffiti was the last thing she expected to see when arriving at Saint Benedict’s Parish in Clayton Park.

“I had my three grandchildren in the car and I just told my son to keep driving,” Walsh says. “I was shocked… devastated.”

The vandalism at Saint Benedict’s Parish was discovered shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday.

Maintenance crews were able to remove the offensive messages before the 9 a.m. mass, but traces of the paint remain.

Local priest, Father James Mallon posted photos of the damage on Twitter. His post read: “Someone said to me this week that Christians were not persecuted in our country. This morning we woke up to this.”

Father Mallon says he was in shock when he witnessed the red paint.

“A sense of violation in a sense, this is our spiritual home this place and a bit of anger, but I really moved quickly to feeling sorry for the people who did this,” Father Mallon says.

Although the attacks came at a significant time on the Christian Calendar, Father Simon Lobo from Saint Benedict is also expressing forgiveness.

"It was particularly chosen to be this weekend, I heard about other churches that had some issues as well, but to be honest as soon as Iheard, my instant reaction was the words of Jesus that he spoke from the cross, father forgive them, for they know not what they do," says Father Lobo.

Saint Agnes’ Church in Halifax’s west end was also target with similar paint markings on the church’s doors.

The grafitti was still very much visible at Saint Agnes’ Parish when parishioners arrived for 10 a.m. mass.

The images and words were almost identical at both houses of worship.

Father Paul Morris of Saint Agnes’says the incidents inspired last minute changes to Easter Sunday sermons.

"It wasn't part of what I had originally written for Easter Sunday, but I addressed it square on, I wanted people to know that it occurred, and I wanted everyone to take a look upon leaving," says Father Morris.

Father Morris says the church will bring in professional sand blasters to remove the graffiti as soon as possible, but notes it will be expensive.

Both churches have contacted Halifax Regional Police about the acts of vandalism and will be filling police reports.

Saint Benedict’s Church says they do have video surveillance footage of an individual spray painting the church at about 2 a.m. Sunday, and they will be turning that footage over to police.

Police confirm they are investigating both incidents.

HRP is asking anyone with information to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.