San Francisco’s archbishop plans to conduct an exorcism this Saturday (17th October) at the site of a now-toppled statue of St Junipero Serra at St Rafael Mission Church in San Rafael.
Just the saint’s feet are left after the statue on church property was vandalised and desecrated earlier this week by what Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone described as a “small, violent mob,” who he hopes will be prosecuted for attacking the statue.
The vandalism took place on 12th October – Columbus Day, or Indigenous Peoples Day as the holiday is now called in some cities and states, including California – during what was at first a peaceful protest held at St Rafael Mission Church, the archbishop said, but then some participants became violent and destroyed the statue.
“Once again, this time at St Raphael Parish, a statue of St Junipero Serrawas mindlessly defaced and toppled by a small, violent mob,” Archbishop Cordileone said in a statement.
“This kind of behaviour has no place in any civilised society.” He said the police arrested five “of the perpetrators,” but “what happens next is crucial. If these are treated as small property crimes, it misses the point: The symbols of our faith are now under attack not only on public property, but now on our own property and even inside of our churches,” he said. “We cannot allow a small unelected group of lawbreakers to decide what sacred symbols we Catholics or other believers may display and use to foster our faith. This must stop.”
Photo: The base of what was a statue of St Junipero Serra is seen in front of Mission San Raphael in San Rafael, California, after vandals tore down the statue on 12th October. (CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of San Francisco)