A demand to remove the St. Junípero Serra statue at Mission Santa Inés saw opposing groups shouting at each other in sweltering heat while members of a third group steadily recited the rosary Saturday afternoon in Solvang.

A group of 20 protesters gathered at Solvang Park to walk to the historic mission at 1760 Mission Drive, seeking removal of the statue.

On Saturday, with the temperature topping 90 degrees, protesters called upon church officials to remove the statue from the mission’s property, shouting “Take it down!”

As protesters aired their allegations, members of the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal service order, prayed the rosary while church-hired photographers recorded the activity on both sides of the barrier blocking the mission’s driveway.

“We will have a group of us praying at the statue,” the Rev. Robert “Bobby” Barbato, a Capuchin friar and pastor of Mission Santa Inés, said in a video posted to social media. “Don’t worry, we will be protecting it.”

On Saturday afternoon, a number of brothers from San Lorenzo Seminary in Santa Ynez stood praying and singing as shouts of protesters could be heard in the distance.

Earlier Saturday afternoon, Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was joined by several priests as he said a socially distanced Mass near the statue.

On Sunday morning, Barbato said everything went very well Saturday, and he renewed his offer for a discussion with protesters about the issue.

“I respect very much their right to express their opinion and protest,” he said. “I also respect our right to be able to have the freedom of our faith.”

Full story at Noozhawk.

See previous CalCatholic story about the statue of Junipero Serra on the Old Mission Santa Inés grounds: Solvang’s Old Mission Santa Ines keeps Serra