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Scott Atlas.

The archbishop of San Francisco performed an exorcism ceremony on Saturday outside the Saint Raphael Catholic Church in downtown San Rafael, at the spot where protesters had toppled a statue of Saint Junipero Serra earlier in the week.

Armed with holy water and Latin prayers, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone performed the ritual to “drive out evil and defend the image of Serra,” the Los Angeles Times reports. As Cordileone explained to the crowd of 150 who’d assembled for the ceremony, “the experts in the field tell me that Latin tends to be more effective against the devil because he doesn’t like the language of the church.”

For those whose Latin was a little rusty, a translation of the proceedings was provided, and included prayers calling for Satan’s “proud head” to be “crushed.” “Be gone, Satan, inventor and master of all fallacy, enemy of the salvation of men. Place yourself before Jesus Christ,” Cordileone ordered.

As the San Francisco Chronicle notes, despite the popular representation in The Exorcist, exorcisms are “more commonly a solemn ceremony like Saturday’s, a religious ritual to evict the devil or evil spirits from an area or person.”

Meanwhile, in the more earthly sphere, five people have been arrested on vandalism charges for knocking over the statue on Monday, which was both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day. Critics say Serra, a Spanish missionary priest, was a “brutal colonialist” who helped “to erase and destroy” the culture of native Californians, Vox writes. Cordileone defended Serra in the Saturday ceremony, saying the missions were “not to dominate and annihilate” but to save native Californians “from domination and annihilation” with the teachings of Catholicism.

The statue will be repaired, according to a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Jeva Lange


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