My article “Junipero Serra: A hero or a villain?” appears in the Washington Post.
Here’s the lede:
Congressional staffer Olivia Hnat has walked past the Capitol’s nine-foot bronze statue of Junipero Serra, the 18th-century California missionary whom Pope Francis will canonize during his visit to Washington next week, hundreds of times. Hnat, also a parishioner of Southwest’s St. Dominic Church says the significance of the nine-foot-tall bronze sculpture isn’t lost on her.
“The statue of Father Serra, the first saint to be canonized on U.S. soil, will stand as a reminder of the pope’s historic trip to America and of his address to Congress,” she says.
The sculpted Serra in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, created by Venetian-born Ettore Cadorin (1876-1952), looks heavenward. His right hand lifts a cross, and the left supports a model of Mission San Carlos, which he founded in present-day Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. A new painting of Serra by Mexican-born artist Lalo Garcia, commissioned by the Los Angeles Archdiocese, shows a very different portrayal. Garcia’s Serra, perhaps the first to be haloed, shows the soon-to-be-saint eying Our Lady of Guadalupe with hands clasped in prayer.