It seems no statue is off limits in the great purging of American history.

At the Old Santa Barbara Mission in California, a statue of St. Junipero Serra was found decapitated this week and covered in dripping, red paint.

Crux reports:

Another statue of St. Junipero Serra has been defaced in California. The founder of the California missions has been criticized for his treatment of native populations in the 18th century. However, when Pope Francis made him a saint, he said Serra “sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it.”

An 18th century Spanish Franciscan, Serra is remembered in Catholic circles as the missionary who brought the faith to the West Coast of the Americas, having founded nine missions himself from San Francisco to San Diego, and he inspired the creation of twelve others after his death in 1784. He’s formally known as the “Apostle of California.”

Serra is credited with baptizing 6,000 Native Americans, but critics say he mistreated and imprisoned them when they didn’t accept Christianity.

As Crux notes, this isn’t the first vandalism to hit the mission:

It is the latest vandalization of a Serra monument over the past few years. In 2015 – shortly before Serra was canonized – the Carmel Mission was attacked, leaving several statues toppled to the ground and a headstone vandalized with the painted words ‘Saint of Genocide.’

In 2016, the front door of the Santa Cruz Mission was splashed with red paint. In August of this year, a statue at the San Fernando Mission was painted red, and the word ‘Murder’ was written on it in white.

Serra’s statue has been removed and the mission isn’t sure if it will be put back up.


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