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Mission Carmel (burial place of Junípero Serra) vandalized!

Mission Carmel

Four days after Junípero Serra was canonized a Saint by Pope Francis, vandals defaced the grounds of Mission San Carlos Borroméo del Río Carmelo, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where Serra is buried at the foot of the main altar. SFGate.com states:

At some point overnight Saturday, one or more vandals scaled the wall surrounding the cemetery next to the mission and defaced the headstones and statues of Serra and other European settlers buried on the grounds, said Sgt. Luke Powell with the Carmel-by-the-Sea Police Department. Vandals also sloshed paint on the church’s outside doors.

Officials with the mission posted eight photos of the vandalism on Facebook early Sunday, which show white, green and red paint splattered on the site’s memorials.

A statue of Serra was toppled over with green and white paint poured across the face and chest. A chunk of stone had the words “saint of genocide” scrawled on it.

Police were investigating the incident as a hate crime.

“There appears to be a correlation between the canonization and this criminal act,” Powell said. “Only the gravestones of European settlers were defaced versus the Native American ones.”

On Wednesday, hundreds gathered at Mission Carmel to watch a live stream of the canonization by Pope Francis, which occurred in Washington, D.C. While the service was held, many Native Americans gathered at the Mission to express their frustration with the honor. SFGate.com continues:

During the middle part of the 18th century, Serra founded nine of California’s Catholic missions — including San Francisco’s Mission Dolores — cementing his stature among the fathers of modern California.

But Serra’s time in California was also marked by controversy. Rather than a founding father of California, many American Indians and other groups see Serra as a Western European imperialist who killed thousands of indigenous people.

With few immunities to European diseases, native people died by the thousands in California’s missions.

Serra died in 1784, at age 70, after 15 years of working in California.

Investigators are reviewing security videos of the Mission and canvassing the neighborhood for potential witnesses.

-Bill at

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