Who made the wonderful statues of Junipero Serra that are at so many of the missions?

Many of the mission – and scores of other locations in California - have statues of Fr. Serra identical to the one pictured here, which sits in front of the entrance to the Padre’s Wing at Mission Santa Barbara.


These life-sized statues were funded by the William H. Hannon Foundation. William H. Hannon was a Southern California real estate developer. He arranged to have a hundred statues erected at various locations in California that were important in the life Junipero Serra. (One statue was placed outside California, at St. Louis University.)

The gifted sculptor Mr. Hannon used to do this work was Dale

The story of William H. Hannon and these inspiring Serra statues is available at http://missiontour.org/ Information on this remarkable man’s legacy is available at http://www.hannonfoundation.org/. My friend Tom, who created the wonderful Mission Tour website says that the story is often told that William H. Hannon started the practice of rubbing the toes of the Serra statues for Good Luck. He would tell children "After all, he walked all across California, so those toes are lucky; maybe rubbing his toe will help on your next big test."

There are other important statues of Fr. Serra at various missions. The blind sculptor Arthur Putnam created a stone statue of an idealized Junipero Serra. It stands under a fir tree in the cemetery of Mission Dolores. One of the most popular Serra statues sits in Brand park, across from the San Fernando Rey mission. It is a magnet for children visiting the mission.

A cast concrete statue showing a Franciscan Friar pivoting a young Native American boy towards his skyward pointing hand was dedicated in 1914 to Fr. Serra. The statue, which now stands at the far right of the mission's famous bell wall, was created by John Van Rennsselaer.


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