Nearly 300 years ago, Saint Junipero Serra landed on the West coast of the New World with his missionary brothers. Within less than half a decade, the holy friar founded 21 missions and was responsible for the conversion of countless American Indians. It’s no surprise these actions earned him the illustrious moniker, “the Apostle of California.”
Sadly, the “cancel culture” of the twenty-first century is attacking his legacy.
Following the trend of protesters influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, California malcontents have begun a campaign of historical revisionism and anarchic destruction. They are tearing down statues dedicated to Saint Junipero. In San Francisco, rioters toppled a magnificent statue of the great saint in the Golden Gate Park. In Ventura, Calif., protesters are still trying to take his statue down from the public square.
Volunteers from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) traveled to both San Francisco and Ventura to defend Saint Serra’s legacy, true American history and the heritage of California.
The timing was providential, as the issue flared up amid the American TFP’s monumental effort to travel—in groups referred to as caravans—to the capitals of each U.S. state and territory to pray for the country in this time of profound crisis.
A California caravan visited the state’s capital and then added protests in defense of the statutes of Saint Junipero to their schedule. Upon arriving in San Fransisco, the volunteers were met by local TFP supporters who are part of the TFP’s America Needs Fatima Home Visitation program. Additionally, a priest from the Institute of Christ the King with some parishioners joined the TFP members at the site where the Saint Junipero Serra statue had been torn down and defaced just several days prior.
About 25 men gathered around a pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima and prayed the rosary in reparation for the horrid act of iconoclasm against Father Serra’s statue. Others carried banners with messages defending the legacy of Saint Junipero while still others held iconic TFP Student Action honk signs, which encouraged passing motorists to show their support for the cause with their car horns.
TFP Rally of Reparation in San Francisco for Attack on Saint Junipero Serra
Despite its reputation as a far-left city, many people driving by responded positively. Several people walking by even thanked the TFP for being there. In the words of one man, “It’s not easy defending Christian civilization in this city. Some people see it as a dirty word. Thank you all for being brave and coming out here today.”
Others, however, were not as supportive. Most opposition was not about Father Serra, but rather exaggerated anger towards the volunteers for demonstrating during the Chinese virus panic. When pressed in discussion, many protested the group around the site. Yet they thought the more massive crowds of BLM protestors—which had hundreds of demonstrators in areas of similar size—constituted no threat to public health.
The caravan then made its way to Ventura, the site of another struggle against the twenty-first century iconoclasts. Unlike San Francisco, the statue in Ventura, California, had not yet been removed. The TFP volunteers joined 75 local Catholics who are holding regular demonstrations gathering in front of the statue of Saint Junipero, which sits below the city hall. Those present prayed the rosary and displayed banners and signs.
Despite media reports saying people want the statue down, the response from the public was almost universally in support of the campaign. This reaction calls into question the authenticity of the opposition to the statue.
Some people suggested a compromise with the opponents of Saint Serra. They said the statue should be moved from its public place before the city hall and enclosed inside the nearby San Buenaventura mission, which he founded.
In response to this position, TFP caravan leader Cesar Franco said that “Saint Junipero Serra was a holy saint and a great man. His actions were not only responsible for the salvation of scores of souls, but for the foundation of California. As such, his legacy deserves to be honored not only in the churches but also in the public square. He is an integral part of the patrimony of the Holy Catholic Church and the State of California. His statue must remain where it is.”
After the Rosary Rally, the local residents posed for a photograph with the statue and thanked the caravan for participating. The caravan then made its way toward Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Although attacks on the legacy of Saint Junipero are not new, they are occurring now with more hatred and intensity. In response, all faithful Catholics and good citizens must act in his defense.
May Saint Junipero Serra intercede not only for California but for all America.