MINISTERS have come under fire after keeping mum after being urged to act after a Scots Catholic shrine was torched in a fire attack.

The Lourdes Cave at the Carfin Grotto on Newarthill Road in Motherwell was left badly damaged after it was vandalised.

Owners of the grotto told followers on Facebook that they were "very sad" to report that "yobs" had been responsible for the attack.

Police confirmed they received a report around 12.50pm that the holy spot had been targeted.

Vandals damaged signs, candle stands, cables and plaques.

Afterwards spokespeople for the owners called on the Scottish Government to act to protect places of worship.

But the Scottish Government said it would not comment directly on the request for action.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring that all places of worship should be places of peace and sanctuary and that our faith communities feel safe and secure when they visit them.

“Any incident of this nature is clearly concerning for the local community but while the police investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

The lack of response has been criticised by some on social media.

In a video on social media, Sancta Familia Media - who run press inquiries for the shrine called on the Scottish Government to reassure the Catholic community in Scotland about protecting their religious spots.

In a social media the group wrote: "Sadly all too common an event in Scotland. What will @NicolaSturgeon and the @scotgov do to reassure Catholics and the protection of their places or worship?"

A spokesman for Sancta Familia Media said: "We know it was deliberate because items were added in a pile and set on fire within the Lourdes memorial cave.

"It is worrying for Catholics that so many acts of vandalism and destruction are reported up and down the country. We hope it is addressed at a national level.

"The Grotto is open to everyone not just Catholics and we would hate to be in a situation where we had to close access which is enjoyed by many as a place of peace."

In a Facebook post, the grotto owners appealed to anyone who might know who was responsible to contact the police.

"We are very sad to report some yobs have destroyed some of the candle stands were we pray for our loved ones. Whilst there is financial damage and implications for repairs at a time when we are tight in cash, there is larger impact of intimidation and desecrating the prayers of the faithful and their loved ones," they said.

The shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, was created in the early twentieth century.

It was the brainchild of Father, later Canon Thomas Taylor, who died in 1963.

He was the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier's Parish in the small, mining village of Carfin, which lies two miles east of Motherwell.

Following a trip to France's principal Marian shrine at Lourdes, Canon Taylor's vision was to build a religious memorial in honour of 'Our Blessed Lady' based on the template of the Grotto of Massabielle.

Since its opening in the early 1920s, the "grotto" has attracted pilgrims in the hundreds of thousands and its environs have been modified and enhanced with rich Catholic symbols and buildings.

The grotto shrine offers a pilgrimage season with Sunday processions, rosaries, outdoor Masses and dedicated Feast Day events which run annually from early May until late September.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We were made aware of damage caused at Carfin Grotto on Newarthill Road in Motherwell around 12.50pm on Monday, 18 October.

“Enquiries are ongoing and at an early stage.”