“This is Sacrilege”: St. Junípero Serra Statue Toppled & Defaced in San Francisco

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@StephenHerreid, Twitter / @1renist, Twitter / ChurchPOP

Vandals toppled and defaced a statue of St. Junípero Serra in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on Friday evening.

The video shows several people cheering while pulling the large statue down to the ground. Several videos of the incident surfaced on Twitter. The vandals also demolished statues of National Anthem lyricist Francis Scott Key and Pres. Ulysses S. Grant..

St. Junípero Serra founded nine missions between San Diego and San Francisco to evangelize California Indians.

Catholic News Agency reports that activists say Serra is a “symbol of European colonialism,” and “missions engaged in the forced labor of Native Americans, sometimes claiming St. Serra himself was abusive.”

However, “defenders say that Serra was actually an advocate for native people and a champion of human rights. They note the many native people he helped during his life, and their outpouring of grief at his death.”

Here’s the video of the toppling statue below:

Click here if you cannot see the post above.

Here’s photos of the vandalization:

@heresysquad, Twitter
@1renist, Twitter

This twitter user wrote, “They pulled down a statue of St. Junípero Serra in San Francisco. The cross he’s holding, the rosary around his belt, none of these were treated with respect. / This is sacrilege. To support it is to cease to be Catholic.”

Here’s the enlarged photos:

@1renist, Twitter
@1renist, Twitter

Biographers also say the saint defended the Native peoples from persecution.

According to a previous ChurchPOP article,  “the missions he founded took in thousands of Native American converts to Christianity and taught them technological development skills.”

Pope Francis canonized St. Junípero Serra in 2015.

“Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it,” Pope Francis said in the canonization homily.

“Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.”

“Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work, not just a saying, but above all a reality which shaped the way he lived: siempre adelante! Keep moving forward!

“For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized.

“He kept moving forward, because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life.

“Today, like him, may we be able to say: Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!”

St. Junípero Serra, please pray for our country!

[See also: 10 Facts about the Great St. Junípero Serra Every Catholic Needs to Know!

[See also: Why We Need St. Junípero Serra]