In August, we covered a report that a statue of Father Junipero Serra in a park across from Mission San Fernando had been vandalized, as it was spray-painted red and the word “murder” written on the Serra in white.

Now, Old Mission Santa Barbara’s Serra statue has been beheaded and coated in red paint:

The towering statue of St. Junipero Serra had stood at the foot of a staircase leading into the Old Mission Santa Barbara for years.

This week, however, workers were forced to remove the statue of the controversial figure after someone poured red paint over the sculpture and cut off its head.

“I think people forget the friars do live here,” said Monica Orozco, the mission’s executive director. “Anytime something like this happens to anyone’s home, it’s difficult for people.”

The vandalism, which occurred between midnight and 6 a.m. Monday, has triggered an investigation, said Sgt. Joshua Morton, spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department. No arrests have been made.

Employees are reexamining security measures for the 13-acre property, which is home to 20 friars and houses the Franciscan School of Theology, Orozco said.

KRON in the Bay Area filed this report:

Social media had additional imagery and opinions about this latest attack:

Sadly, some Californians seem chill with the attack:

This is the latest in a string of attacks on statues honoring the newly-minted saint. There are now concerns that another figure at the St. Louis Opisobo mission may be in danger.

Officials from the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa say there are no special precautions being taken to protect the statue.

A docent for the mission says Saint Junipero Serra only spent one day in San Luis Obispo, but now there’s a full time statue of him in Mission Plaza.

The archdiocese of Monterey says despite the events in Santa Barbara, they haven’t been given reason to worry about the statue’s security.

Serra is known the missionary who brought the faith to the West Coast, having founded nine missions himself from San Francisco to San Diego. He’s formally known as the “Apostle of California.”

Stephen P. White, a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, puts some much needed historical and cultural perspective on the saint:

This was the point Pope Francis’ made in his remarks on the occasion of Serra’s canonization, which bears repeating. “Junipero sought to defend the dignity of the native community,” the pope said, “to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it; mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.” If Serra’s example was rare for his time, that makes it all the more remarkable.

But ideologies built on class grievances and collective guilt are rarely interested in such distinctions. Individuals aren’t praised or blamed according to their personal merits or faults, nor judged by the content of their character. And so we are told Serra must bear the guilt for the sins of others in his class, or his race, or his religion, even of those who came long after he died.

Columbus Day this year is on Oct. 9th. I would suggest the California missions consider doing security assessments and take enhanced precautions around that date, as their memorials are obviously attractive targets for social justice attacks in the name of indigenous peoples.


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