A Roman Catholic archbishop carried out an exorcism in Northern California on Saturday morning at a site where protesters against racial injustice toppled a statue of 18th-century Spanish missionary Junipero Serra a few days earlier.
Unlike movies, real exorcisms are often solemn church rituals, similar to the Sabbath, which aimed to ward off evil and protect Serra’s reputation.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco performed a ritual in front of 150 followers before celebrating a special Mass at St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in San Rafael, 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 honors Serra for bringing Roman Catholicism to the Western United States, but critics say he forced Native Americans to renounce their culture or be severely punished.
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“Experts in this field tell me that Latin is usually 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.
Serra’s statues in Los Angeles and Sacramento were also attacked by protesters.
San Rafael police said five suspects had been arrested in connection with the vandalism.
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The statue is under renovation and will be returned to its place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.