SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) — The Santa Cruz Mission was vandalized earlier this week with a message mentioning a recently canonized saint, and the incident is being investigated as a hate crime, a police spokeswoman said Thursday.

Around 7 a.m. Monday, police received a call from mission staff member who found red paint splattered at the mission’s front wooden doors and a side wall spray painted in red with the message “Serra St. of Genocide,” police spokeswoman Joyce Blaschke said.

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The message makes a reference to Junipero Serra, an 18th-century missionary who was canonized by Pope Francis in September.

The mission, located on School Street between High and Mission streets, was founded by Franciscans in 1791, according to the state parks website.

Damage from the vandalism is estimated at about $5,000, Blaschke said.

The mission is located next door to Holy Cross School, a private Catholic school for students in preschool through eighth grade.

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Police are looking for surveillance footage from the surrounding area that can provide clues on the suspect or suspects, according to Blaschke.

Investigators are looking into whether the incident is related to one in Carmel-by-the-Sea in September, when a statue of Serra was vandalized at the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission days after his canonization, police said.

The statues and graves of people of European descent at the mission were also vandalized, but not those of Native Americans, according to police.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Santa Cruz police at (831) 420-5820 or the tip line at (831) 420-5995.

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