Archbishop Performs Exorcism Where St. Junípero Serra Fell, Asking For God’s Mercy

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said the toppling of the statue left a wound in his soul.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone sprinkles holy water on Catholics gathered in Golden Gate Park at the site where the statue of St. Junípero Serra once stood.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone sprinkles holy water on Catholics gathered in Golden Gate Park at the site where the statue of St. Junípero Serra once stood. (photo: Francisco Valdez and Dennis Callahan)

SAN FRANCISCO — On June 19, the statue of St. Junípero Serra fell to angry protesters inside Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. On Saturday, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone visited the park where St. Junípero once stood to offer prayers, perform an exorcism and conduct other acts of reparation, in response to what he called "horrendous acts of blasphemy."

In a video released by the archdiocese, Archbishop Cordileone said the toppling of the statue had affected him greatly:

“I’ve been feeling great distress and a deep wound in my soul when I see these horrendous acts of blasphemy … and disparaging of the memory of Serra, who was such a great hero, such a great defender of the indigenous people of this land; someone who was very much a part of my life growing up. I grew up very close to the first mission that he founded in San Diego. So it inflicted a very deep wound in my soul.”

The archbishop performed an exorcism for what he called “an act of sacrilege, an act of the evil one,” adding: “This is the activity of the evil one who wants to bring down the Church, who wants to bring down all Christian believers. So we offer that prayer and bless this ground with holy water so that God might purify it, sanctify it; that we, in turn, might be sanctified.”

Calling the acts of reparation necessary for the city to heal, he also led a crowd that had gathered, all practicing social-distancing and wearing masks, in the Rosary, asking for the intercession of the Blessed Mother and all the saints. Archbishop Cordileone said, “The Rosary has the power to even change history. We bind together in prayer, in fasting and penance, but especially in the prayer of the Rosary.”

As Catholics, the archbishop called on the faithful to pray, “asking God’s mercy upon us, upon our whole city, that we might turn our hearts back toward him.”

He reminded Catholics about the importance of fasting and other acts of penance, but he also urged every citizen to educate themselves about the life of St. Junípero and not be unaware of the truth, saying:

“There’s ignorance of the real history. So I would ask our people to learn the history of Father Serra, the missions, the whole history of the Church, so they can appreciate the great legacy the Church has given us, given the world: so much truth, beauty and goodness. It’s a wonderful legacy that we should be proud of. There are those that want to make us feel ashamed of it. We have every reason to be proud of it; but also, we have to approach living our Christian life with humility and continue to give goodness to the world, and give the world beauty and truth, with the help of the grace of God.”

May we all heed the archbishop’s advice. 

Senator Dianne Feinstein speaks with St. John Paul II in San Francisco, Calif., in 1978.

A True Shepherd

EDITORIAL: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone responded to the death of political adversary Dianne Feinstein with charity and graciousness, as befits all Catholics.