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Joan of Arc

LOS ANGELES, California, August 24, 2017  (LifeSiteNews) — What do Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, General Robert E. Lee, St. Junipero Serra, Christopher Columbus, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney have in common? Each have had their statues defaced, removed, or serve as the centerpiece of national controversy during the past week.

The Junipero Serra statue, which stands in a Los Angeles park near the San Fernando Mission that he founded, is the most recent of the reported incidents.  

The saint’s image was splashed with red paint with the word “Murder” in big letters written on his Franciscan habit. Serra’s arm rests on the shoulder of a Native American child, held close to the saint. Vandals allegedly painted a swastika on the boy’s head.


Where does it end?

“Where does this movement stop?” asked Marshall Connelly of Catholic Online. “While the public appears to be in a frenzy over controversial statues, St. Serra is a Catholic saint, and his statue is a religious icon. Of course, the non-religious do not appreciate this fact.”

Connelly continued, “There is a growing movement afoot to sweep distasteful moments and people out of history. While objective history is static, it is often clouded by time and perception. History is constantly being revised as political and social attitudes change. The heroes of one time and place are often villains in another.”

The question is, “where does the revisionism end? After the statues, what next? The names of streets, buildings, and cities? Should the money be reprinted to avoid any association with slavery? Should the Constitution be discarded or rewritten because its authors were slaveholders? And who will write the new one?”

Connelly asked the big question now on many minds. With the “statue of St. Serra vandalized, are Christian crosses next?

Old statue, new saint

Junipero Serra was a Spanish Franciscan missionary who founded nine Catholic missions along the California coast in the 18th century. He was beatified by St. John Paul II in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him during his trip to Washington, D.C., in 2015.  

Pope Francis said the Franciscan priest “(w)as excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters.”

“Junipero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it,” continued the Pope. “Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.”

The others

  • Taney had his statue removed from the Maryland State House grounds in Annapolis during the middle of the night.  Taney is best known for having written the majority opinion in the infamous, much-regretted Dred Scott case.

  • Lee commanded the Confederate Army. His statue was at the center of the protests that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia. There were several arrests and a 32-year-old woman was killed when a car slammed into a group of counter-protesters.  

  • A statue of Columbus, dedicated in 1792, was also vandalized this week. Those claiming responsibility for the attack assert that the famous explorer was responsible for “a centuries-old wave of terrorism, murder, genocide, rape, slavery, ecological degradation and capitalist exploitation of labor in the Americas.”  

According to the Baltimore Sun, “The vandalism comes nearly one week after city officials swiftly removed four controversial monuments: a statue of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate Women’s monument, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and a statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.”

  • During the mayhem in Charlottesville, a large bust of Abraham Lincoln that stood in a Chicago neighborhood since 1926 was torched.

  • And as reported by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, “‘Tear it Down’ was hastily sprayed in black paint across the base of the golden Joan of Arc statue on Decatur Street in the French Quarter sometime earlier this week.”  

The report continued, “Amy Kirk Duvoisin, the founder of the annual Joan of Arc parade that ceremonially pauses at the statue on the first day of Carnival season, says she's confused by the vandalism.

“If there's a bright side to the incident,” Duvoisin said, “it's that it's ‘an opportunity to teach about’ the teenage warrior who was burned at the stake in 1431.”

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Doug Mainwaring is a journalist for LifeSiteNews, an author, and a marriage, family and children's rights activist.  He has testified before the United States Congress and state legislative bodies, originated and co-authored amicus briefs for the United States Supreme Court, and has been a guest on numerous TV and radio programs.  Doug and his family live in the Washington, DC suburbs.