Sainthood may reserve a prominent space in heaven for California missionary Junipero Serra, but a statue of the 18th century Roman Catholic priest will soon no longer have a home in front of Ventura City Hall.
Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere, representatives from the Barbareño/Venureño Band of Mission Indians and Father Tom Elewaut, pastor of nearby Mission San Buenaventura, issued a joint statement Thursday agreeing to take down the statue and have it “moved to a more appropriate non-public location.”
“I always knew that this moment, despite all the issues our people have faced, would happen,” Chief Julie Tumamait Stenslie, whose Barbareño/Venureño Band comprises Chumash members, said in a phone interview Thursday evening. “We’re constantly fighting to correct our history, and if there was ever a time to speak up, the time was now.”
In the last few days, a likeness of explorer Christopher Columbus was taken down in San Francisco, while a statue of California Gold Rush colonizer John Sutter was defaced and then removed in Sacramento.
Thursday’s joint statement confirmed an agreement to move the statue of Serra, though where and when is still murky.
“A historic decision such as this must involve the Ventura City Council, the voices of the Chumash tribe and residents of Ventura,” the statement read.
…Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez referred to Serra as one of his “spiritual heroes.” Pope Francis canonized him a saint in 2015.
Serra’s bronzed, roughly nine-foot statue resides in a pristine location in a small park in front of City Hall. Serra has his back to the government building and gazes down upon California Street with a view of the ocean.
An original statue was commissioned in the 1930s but wore down and was replaced by the modern version in 1989….
The above comes from a June 18 story in the Los Angeles Times.