Pope Francis has elevated a California mission church founded by St. Junipero Serra to the rank of minor basilica. The San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura was granted the title by the pope in an announcement from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Wednesday, the feast of St. Bonaventure.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced the mission’s new status on July 15, before celebrating daily Mass at the mission garden, together with Los Angeles auxiliary Bishop Bobert Barron, and the mission’s pastor. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mass was celebrated outdoors and livestreamed.

“When the Pope designates a basilica, it means this is holy ground,” Gomez said.

“Something beautiful and important in the history of salvation happened here. A basilica is a place where the mercy of God has been proclaimed in the name of Jesus Christ. It is a place where sinners have been saved and saints have been made, and the Kingdom of God has moved forward.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.

By a 6-0 vote, the Ventura City Council approved a motion at the end of a special meeting on Wednesday, July 15, to permanently remove two statues of St. Junípero Serra from public land. It also agreed to follow a recommendation to have at least one of them – a 9-foot bronze statue currently protected by a chain-linked fence and video surveillance cameras just outside of the council chambers – be relocated to Mission San Buenaventura.

The decision came on the feast day of the city’s namesake, St. Bonaventure, and hours after Pope Francis’ elevation of Mission San Buenaventura to the rank of minor basilica was made public. Both occasions were noted during the three hours of public discussion on the video-streamed online session.

Wednesday was the second of two extended special public meetings – including one on July 7,  that combined to last more than seven hours and allowed more than 200 speakers to be heard in what council member Jim Friedman sized up as a 50-50 split in opinion. There were also more than 2,500 emails submitted to the council to consider, noted Deputy Mayor Sofia Rubalcava, presiding over the meetings after Mayor Matt LaVere recused himself.

Full story at Angelus News.