As Christians flocked to their places of worship this Christmas, a church in Finland has suffered a devastating fate.
On Monday, police in South Karelia – a region that borders Russia – confirmed that they were investigating a Christmas Day church fire as an act of “aggravated sabotage” and “property damage”.
Officers at the Department of Southeastern Finland told the press that rope and string had been tied to the door of the church – they believe the perpetrator may have attempted to stop people exiting the building as the fire took hold.
Between 30 and 40 people are believed to have been in attendance at the time of the fire, which was first reported at 8.30am local time.
The wooden building was reduced to ashes, but thankfully no one was hurt.
Fire services attempted to save the centuries-old church, despite holding out little hope. It has now been completely destroyed.
Almost 30 kilometres away, a second fire saw a house set ablaze. The body of the inhabitant – an elderly man - was later found inside.
Police believe the two incidents may have been linked, with police suggesting the deceased may have been involved in the church fire unintentionally.
However, they have not confirmed the theory at this time.
The church held a prayer vigil outside the church on Monday.