An arson attack on a Liverpool church which caused £10,000 of damage was committed by two children aged six and nine.
The children are said to have started four small fires and broke stained glass windows.
The youngsters fled the Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic church when the fire got out of their control.
Deacon Malcolm Fletcher said the alert was raised by a member of the public who saw smoke emerging from the church.
"It was vandalism rather than a concerted attempt to set fire to the church but it has caused a mess and cosmetic damage.
"People are very upset at what they have seen. It could have been a lot worse and we are thankful to God for that."
The children allegedly entered the church by breaking in through a stained glass window, they also destroyed a valuable alter cloth, carpets and several books.
One of the parishioners at the church said: "It was heart-breaking to see the damage. To find out that the instigator is a six-year-old is awful. We can only hope that he gets help."
A Merseyside Police spokesman said: 'It is being dealt with by restorative justice. A programme has been put in place in which they will be talking to a priest and parishioners about the effect of their actions.'