A Roman Catholic archbishop held an exorcism in Northern California on Saturday morning in the area where protesters of racial injustice had ousted the statue of 18th-century Spanish missionary Junipero Serra earlier.
Unlike in movies, true exorcism is often solemn in church rituals such as Saturday, intended to ward off evil and defend Serra’s reputation.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco performed a ritual in front of nearly 150 supporters before celebrating a special Mass inside St. Raphael Catholic Church in San Raphael north of San Francisco.
Serra, who lived from 1713 to 1784 and was canonized by Pope Francis in 2015, is known as the father of the California mission system.
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The church respected Serra for bringing Roman Catholicism to the Western United States but critics said he was forcing Native Americans to renounce their culture or face brutal punishment.
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“Field experts tell me that Latin tends to be more effective against the devil because he does not like the language of the church,” Cordileone said after praying in the official language of the church.
Statues of Serra in Los Angeles and Sacramento were also destroyed by protesters.
San Raphael police said five suspects were arrested in connection with the vandalism.
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The statue is fixed and returned to the place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.