Rioters in California destroyed a statue of Father Junipero Serra (not the same one featured in the photo above) on Friday at Golden Gate Park, which comes as far-left activists have engaged in the destruction of monuments across the U.S. for the last couple of weeks.
Steve Cortes, National Spokesman for America First, the official Trump super PAC, shared a video of the incident on Twitter, writing: “A violent horde toppled a CA statue of a great missionary and Catholic saint, Father Junipero Serra. Patriots, the Left plays for keeps while so many “conservative” leaders just seek to placate the mob. The madness must stop. Are you angry yet???”
A violent horde toppled a CA statue of a great missionary and Catholic saint, Father Junipero Serra.
Patriots, the Left plays for keeps while so many “conservative” leaders just seek to placate the mob.
The madness must stop. Are you angry yet??? pic.twitter.com/o2lvDgX13i
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) June 20, 2020
Serra, a missionary from Spain, traveled from Spain to Mexico in the 1700s to spread the word of God before eventually moving to California.
Serra established his first mission in San Fernando de Velicatá in May 1769. Moving further north, he founded another mission in San Diego, first of nine missions he created in what is present-day California, that July. Serra spent the rest of his life devoted to his evangelical work in the region. In trying to bring his religion to the Native Americans sometimes led to clashes with his own government. He clashed with Spanish authorities over the way soldiers treated the native peoples. While he advocated on behalf of native peoples, Serra also sought to correct them when they broke the rules as well. He supported the use of corporal punishment for offenses.
On August 28, 1784, Serra died at the age of 70 at Mission San Carlos, the one of missions he founded. He was buried in the floor there. According to the Franciscan Friars, Province of Saint Barbara’s website, Serra’s first nine missions were home to more than 4,600 converted Native Americans and more than 6,700 Native Americans had been baptized through the missions by the end of 1784. After his death, Serra was remembered for his dedication to his faith and for bringing Catholicism to California. Beginning in the 1940s, a movement began to have him canonized. Pope John Paul II beatified Serra in 1988, giving him the title of “Blessed.”
Biography added that some objected to Pope Francis naming Serra a saint during his first visit to the United States in 2015 because “some objected to some of the forceful methods he used in trying to convert the Native Americans to the Catholic faith.”
The Hispanic Council released a statement condemning the destruction of property and for tearing down a statue of a Hispanic figure (emphasis original):
Once again, we witness with sadness the tearing down of the statue of another Hispanic figure from the USA, in this case the one of Father Junípero Serra. This Spanish Franciscan, far from being a “genocide” or a “racist”, represented the opposite throughout his life. That is why we wanted to remember who this Majorcan was and what he did to become the first Hispanic saint in the United States.
Junipero was born in November 24, 1713 in Petra, Mallorca, in a humble family who named him Miguel José. After his first studies he decided to continue his ecclesiastical career and took his religious vows on September 15, 1731, becoming Junipero.
In spite of being a distinguished professor he decided to follow his missionary vocation and in 1749 he traveled to the “Colegio de Misionaros de San Fernando” in the capital of Mexico, from where he traveled to “Sierra Gorda”, a land where he evangelized the native population for more than 8 years.
In 1769, together with Gaspar de Portolá, he led the Holy Expedition for the settlement of Spain in Upper California. There, as we will see, he developed a work of incessant evangelization, always at the service of the native populations.
Thus, his work as a missionary led him to found 9 of the 21 missions of Spain in California, such as the one in San Diego de Alcalá, which gives its name to the present city of San Diego. In these missions he served the native community, evangelizing the local populations and providing them with jobs, education and food. He died in August 28, 1784 in the mission of San Carlos Borromeo, near Monterrey.
As Peter M. Escalante, the present pastor of the Basilica Mission of San Diego de Alcalá, recalls, “Father Serra treated the natives who came to the mission like a father to his children”. Such was his dedication that Pope Francis canonized him, thus becoming the first Hispanic saint in the United States. The Pope stated that father Serra “sought to defend the dignity of the indigenous people he evangelized.”
This new attack on his figure lacks historical rigor. It’s also an attack on the Hispanic legacy of the United States and California, which must be respected and cherished, as Junipero himself represented in his time of dedication and service to the native population.