Satanic symbols, including a pentagram and the number 666, were daubed in a church graveyard the night before Father's Day in Yorkshire.
A 56-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing racially or religiously motivated criminal damage in connection with the incident, according to Humberside police.
The lawn at Burstwick All Saints Church in East Yorkshire was vandalised some time on Saturday night with oil-based paint depicting the satanic pentagram and the number 666, often associated with satanism.
"It's terribly upsetting to people that this has appeared on Father's Day," said Dean James, parish councillor for Burstwick Parish Council.
"The police have been informed and the parish are helping police with their enquiries," he added.
"Nothing like this has ever happened here before," said Laura Atkins, 23, whose home looks over the cemetery.
"It would have been upsetting whenever it happened but particularly on a day like Father's Day. We saw some people going in while we were looking and they just looked shocked."
Police officer Darren Bainton described the attack as an act of "malicious defacement".
"At a time when loved ones will be visiting the cemetery to remember those on Father's Day, this is a truly deplorable act of vandalism," he said.
"This sort of incident causes a great deal of distress to families who have lost loved ones and will no doubt be met with shock and sadness in the village and wider community."