A Roman Catholic archbishop performed an exorcism in Northern California on Saturday morning at the site where protesters against racial injustice toppled a statue of 18th-century Spanish missionary Junipero Serra days earlier.
Unlike movies, real exorcisms are often solemn church rituals like the Sabbath, which aimed to ward off evil and protect Sera’s reputation.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco performed the ritual in front of about 150 followers before a special liturgy 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 201
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The church honors Serra for bringing Roman Catholicism to the Western United States, but critics say he forced Indians to abandon their culture or face severe punishment.
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“Experts in this field tell me that Latin is more effective against the devil because he does not like the language of the church,” Cordilleone said after saying prayers in the official language of the church.
Sera’s statues in Los Angeles and Sacramento were also vandalized by protesters.
San Rafael police say five suspects have been arrested in connection with the vandalism.
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The statue is being repaired and will be returned to the site.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.