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Two early explorers of Utah will soon have their statues at the state Capitol in a move that is seen as honoring Latinos and Catholics.

In a unanimous vote, the Senate gave final passage Thursday to HC7, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature. It calls for statues at the Capitol for Fathers Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Silvestre Velez de Escalante.

The Catholic priests explored in 1776 from Mexico to as far north as Utah Valley, preaching Christianity to Indian tribes. Their diaries helped to establish the Old Spanish Trail through parts of Utah.

"Utah is home to over 350,000 Latinos," sponsoring Rep. Mark Archuleta Wheatley told colleagues earlier, adding that as these residents view the statues in the future, "they'll make a connection that [the] Utah [Capitol] truly is the people's house for all."

The project will be privately funded, Wheatley said, "and having the statue to honor their extraordinary lives and accomplishments would be a fitting tribute."

— Lee Davidson