Skip to comments.Blessed Junípero Serra 1713 - 1784 (Mission Chronology, Biography, etc.)
Posted on 06/30/2008 9:24:57 PM PDT by Salvation
Serra was president of the following missions.
(all founded by the Jesuits)
1. 1697 - Nuestra Señora de Loreto
2. 1699 - San Francisco Xavier
3. 1705 - Santa Rosalía de Mulegé
4. 1708 - San José de Comondú
5. 1720 - La Purísima Concepción de
. . . . . . . .María Cadegomó
6. 1720 - Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
7. 1721 - Santiago de las Coras
8. 1721 - Nuestra Señora de los Dolores
9. 1728 - San Ignacio
10. 1730 - San José del Cabo
11. 1733 - Todos Santos
12. 1737 - San Luís Gonzaga
13. 1752 - Santa Gertrudis
14. 1762 - San Francisco de Borja
15. 1767 - Santa María de Los Angeles
Serra was responsible for the founding of the first nine missions.
1) 1769 - San Diego de Alcalá
2) 1770 - San Carlos Borromeo
3) 1771 - San Antonio de Padua
4) 1771 - San Gabriel Arcángel
5) 1772 - San Luís Obispo de Tolosa
6) 1776 - San Francisco de Asís
7) 1776 - San Juan Capistrano
8) 1777 - Santa Clara de Asís
9) 1782 - San Buenaventura
The next nine missions founded by Rev. Fermín Francisco Lasuén.
10) 1786 - Santa Bárbara
11) 1787 - La Purisima Concepción
12) 1791 - Santa Cruz
13) 1791 - Nuestra Señora de la Soledae
14) 1797 - San José de Guadalupe
15) 1797 - San Juan Bautista
16) 1797 - San Miguel Arcángel
17) 1797 - San Fernando Rey de Espana
18) 1798 - San Luís Rey de Francia
Founded by others.
19) 1804 - Santa Inés
20) 1817 - San Rafael Arcángel
21) 1823 - San Francisco Solano de
. . . . . . . . .Sonoma
. . Interviews with California historians and scholars assessing Father Junípero Serra's role in the early history of California identify the Franciscan missionary as a major figure in California history whose founding of Mission San Diego de Alcala on July 16, 1769, marked the introduction of a new civilization in California. Father Serra came to what is now California as a 56-year-old man, asthmatic and suffering from a chronic leg sore that troubled him for the last 15 years of his life. Yet he walked thousands of miles, rode thousands more on the backs of mules, and traveled thousands of miles in sailing ships, bringing the Spanish language to California, as well as the Roman Catholic religion and a chain of nine missions that became the cities of today's California. He introduced agriculture and irrigation systems, pressed for a system of law to protect California's Native Americans against the abuses of Spanish soldiers and created a network of roads.
. . The following excerpts of interviews with historians and scholars, as well as a Franciscan priest with extensive knowledge of the life of the pioneer missionary, describe Father Serra, the man:
DR. MICHAEL MATHES, Professor of history at the University of San Francisco:
. . "Serra was the founder and the pioneer of California. The poor man has had no privacy for years. Everybody has picked at every little aspect that could be known about this man's life."
. . "Serra fought with the military and with the governors a lot. He was unusual in that regard. . . So we have, in a lot of correspondence of these governors, criticism of Serra, lots of criticism. But this criticism of Serra revolves around the fact that he was too much involved in the care and treatment of the Indians, that he would not allow soldiers to mingle with the Indians. He didn't want these people (the Indians) to be tainted with any possible immoral activities that the soldiers might be involved with.
. . "First came the Indians in his missions. Then, if there was anything left over, the soldiers could have it. These were the complaints of the government, of the civil governors: that Serra was such a fanatical missionary that he really didn't want to cooperate with the civilian government, that his first concern was the taking care of his mission. Criticism of Serra is really a boomerang against anybody that would say Serra was a 'bad person ,' because the criticism of him supports the theory that he was a dedicated missionary, He may not have been much of a diplomat or civil servant, but he was one fine missionary."
DR. HARRY KELSEY, curator of history at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History:
. . "Father Serra was certainly a very human man. He had lots of weaknesses, I suppose, but he had tremendous dedication and strength of purpose. He was as old as I am before he even came to California... It's something to think about doing when you're in your 20s and 30s, not when you're in your 50s. Serra had been a college professor for a long time, a fairly well known theologian, and he had lived a pretty comfortable life. When he went to Mexico, he decided he wanted to go to the missions, so his superiors sent him off to the missions. When he finished his mission, he decided that wasn't quite enough. He wanted to come here to the real frontier, so they sent him up here. "
. . "He tended to fly off the handle with the governors. Whether the governors could have been treated effectively any other way, I don't know. Serra got the missions started, though, and he was able to put them on a pretty firm footing."
DR. DAVID HORNBECK, professor of historical geography at California State University, Northridge:
. . "I look at him more as a leader in a sense of his extraordinary administrative ability, and his ability to coordinate the settlement of a whole new frontier. He did it all by himself... If he'd done that for Kentucky, if Father Serra had been Daniel Boone or any one of the sort of folk heroes that we have, well, their feats are exaggerated way beyond what they actually did. Yet, we have somebody here who took a whole brand new frontier, didn't know anything about it, and in four years had taken and converted it to a functioning, organized frontier."
DR. IRIS ENGSTRAND, professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of San Diego:
. . "We know Father Serra's life from the time he was born, where he was trained, what he thought and what he did. He wasn't out there saying, 'Wow, look at all these Indians. Let's whip them into shape.' He was physically there, he worked hard, worked 18 hours a day. He was much nicer to the Indians, really, than even to the governors. He didn't get along too well with some of the military people, you know. His attitude was, 'Stay away from the Indians.' I think you really come up with a benevolent, hard-working person who was strict in a lot of his doctrinal leanings and things like that, but not a person who was enslaving Indians, or beating them, ever."
. . ". . . He was a very caring person and forgiving. Even after the burning of the mission in San Deigo, he did not want those Indians punished. He wanted to be sure that they were treated fairly. . . "
DR. GLORIA MlRANDA, an historian who is associate professor and chair of the Chicano Studies Department at Los Angeles Valley College and who is working on a book about the pioneering family during Father Serra's time:
. . "He clearly saw the need for stability on the frontier. He was also very zealous in his protection of the tribes that he was working with. Often some of the soldiers who came north were not the best role models to imitate."
. . "He is as much a pioneer of the West as the pioneers we cherish in U. S. history. Not only because he introduced a faith -- he was a colonizer, an explorer, a man of great determination. Not that many people come around in history.
. . "His age is much more amazing. And his illness, his physical limitations. He was a very humble man, too. With his credentials, he could have had a very nice cloistered life, but he chose a life of hardship, which is very much apostolic, I think."
FATHER FRANCIS F. GUEST, O. F.M., director of the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library:
. . "He was a man who was not really interested in fame or in honor, or in being held in high regard by the government or by the Viceroys, or by anyone. He was simply interested in doing his spiritual work and if somebody else got the credit for it, he was not concerned one way or the other.
. . "To me, this was an act of extraordinary virtue, extraordinary generosity. It might even be called magnanimity. He was very big-hearted in his love for the Indians, in his love for his work and his dedication to his work. He had very pure intentions. I think that this was an act of virtue on his part, which would merit him very high praise from historians who studied his life from this viewpoint."
FATHER JUNÍPERO SERRA: BIOGRAPHY
. . When Father Junípero Serra founded California's first mission in 1769, he was 56 years old and asthmatic, with a chronic sore on his leg that troubled him for the rest of his life, and he suffered frequently from other illnesses, as well. He stood just 5 feet, 2 inches, and, as a journalist later wrote, "He certainly didn't look like the man who would one day be known as the Apostle of California." Yet he endured the hardships of the frontier and pressed forward with remarkable determination to fulfill his purpose: to convert the Native Americans of California to Christianity.
. . In pursuit of that goal, Father Serra walked thousands of miles between San Diego and Monterey and even Mexico City. He traveled the seas, also; and by the time he died August 28, 1784, in Carmel he had founded nine missions, introduced agriculture and irrigation techniques, and the Spanish language. He had battled governors, bureaucrats and military commanders to secure a system of laws to protect the California Indians from at least some of the injustices inflicted by the Spanish soldiers whose practices often were in conflict with Father Serra's.
. . Father Serra had been a philosophy professor and distinguished preacher at the Convent of San Francisco in Mallorca, the Spanish island where he was born in 1713. He was 36 years old when he reached the port of Vera Cruz, Mexico, on December 8, 1749, and walked to Mexico City. ( It was during that journey of 24 days that an insect bite caused the sore on his leg that sometimes became so painful he had difficulty walking. ) He spent 17 years in missionary work in the Sierra Gorda in the present area of North-Central Mexico. In 1767 he became president of the 14 missions in Baja California, originally founded by the Jesuits, then turned over to the Franciscans.
. . At that time, faced with the threat of Russian colonization from the north, Spain had committed itself to pushing northward into what is now the American state of California. Russian America (Alaska) was only 800 miles away. Spain feared that Russia would push south and gain a firm foothold in Alta California. The Spanish military launched an expedition into California in 1769 under the leadership of Gaspar de Portola. Father Serra set out with them to establish missions.
. . Serra's blessing of the site of Mission San Diego de Alcala on July 16, 1769, marked the beginning of the European settlement of California.
. . Between the years of 1796 and 1784, Father Serra made six voyages by sea totaling 5,400 miles. He traveled by land the distance between Monterey and San Francisco eight times, Monterey and San Antonio 11 times, His longest journey by land was from Monterey to Mexico City. In total, he traveled well over 5,500 miles by land.
. . Father Serra arrived at Monterey aboard the sailing ship San Antonio on June 1, 1770. He celebrated the first Mass on June 3, 1770, on the shore of Monterey Bay, where we now find the city of Monterey.
. . He returned to San Diego to work on the mission there, then founded Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1776, the year of the American Declaration of Independence.
. . When Father Serra died in 1784 he had established nine California missions and baptized 6,000 Indians, about 10 percent of the California Native American population. Those nine missions grew to 21. Today, more than 60 percent of the state's nearly 26 million people live in areas surrounding the missions, and El Camino Real, the road that Father Serra traveled on a tour of the missions shortly before this death, established a major artery running much of the length of the state.
August 28th is the anniversary of the death of Father Serra, and is set aside in special remembrance of his many contributions to the Catholic Church in America.
I will forever be thankful to Father Serra for introducing viticulture to North America.
He is honored here in Santa Barbara with a street close to the beautiful mission :). Thank you God for this great servant and inspiration.
This is so interesting, thanks. I love Fr. Serra, love the fact that half of our entire state was dedicated to the Lord by this man and his good helpers. (Boy do we need that). I will print this off for my 3rd graders, who learn, of course, how poorly the Indians were treated by the ‘bad white people.’ (They also learn that men and women carried pick axes into the gold mines during the Gold Rush. I have to constantly RE-educate them.) Women?? Pick axes??
Happy feast day to all Californians!
**Thank you God for this great servant and inspiration.**
Amen to your prayer.
**love the fact that half of our entire state was dedicated to the Lord by this man and his good helpers.**
Time to keep praying for the state of California (and the committees who choose textbooks.)
Blessed Junipero Serra, Priest
[In the diocese of the United States]
Portrait discovered in a Zacatecas, Mexico second-hand store in 1954 by Harry Downie.
Blessed Junipero Serra was born at Petra, Island of Majorca, November 24, 1713; he died at Monterey, California, August 28, 1784.
On September 14, 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. For his proficiency in studies he was appointed lector of philosophy before his ordination to the priesthood. Later he received the degree of Doctor of Theology from the Lullian University at Palma, where he also occupied the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy until he joined the missionary college of San Fernando, Mexico (1749). While traveling on foot from Vera Cruz to the capital, he injured his leg in such a way that he suffered from it throughout his life, though he continued to make his journeys on foot whenever possible. At his own request he was assigned to the Sierra Gorda Indian Missions. He served there for nine years, part of the time as superior, learned the language of the Pame Indians, and translated the Catechism into their language. Recalled to Mexico, he became famous as a most fervent and effective preacher of missions. His zeal frequently led him to employ extraordinary means in order to move the people to penance. He would pound his breast with a stone while in the pulpit, scourge himself, or apply a lighted torch to his bare chest. He was appointed superior of a band of fifteen Franciscans for the Indian Missions of Lower California. Early in 1769 he accompanied Portolá's land expedition to Upper California. On the way he established the Mission San Fernando de Velicatá, Lower California. He arrived at San Diego on July 1, and on July 16 founded the first of the twenty-one California missions, which accomplished the conversions of all the natives on the coast as far as Sonoma in the north.
In 1778 he received the faculty to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. After he had exercised his privilege for a year, Governor Neve directed him to suspend administering the sacrament until he could present the papal Brief. For nearly two years Father Serra refrained, and then Viceroy Majorga gave instructions to the effect that Father Serra was within his rights. During the remaining three years of his life he once more visited the missions from San Diego to San Francisco, six hundred miles, in order to confirm all who had been baptized. He suffered intensely from his crippled leg and from his chest, yet he would use no remedies. He confirmed 5309 persons, who, with but few exceptions, were Indians converted during the fourteen years from 1770. Besides extraordinary fortitude, his most conspicuous virtues were insatiable zeal, love of mortification, self-denial, and absolute confidence in God. His executive abilities has been especially noted by non-Catholic writers. A bronze statute of heroic size represents him as the apostolic preacher in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. In 1884 the Legislature of California passed a concurrent resolution making August 29 of that year, the centennial of Father Serra's burial, a legal holiday.
He was beatified September 25, 1988 by Pope John Paul II.
(Principal source - Catholic Encyclopedia - 1913 edition)
God most High,
your servant Junipero Serra
brought the gospel of Christ
to the peoples of Mexico and California
and firmly established the Church among them.
By his intercession,
and through the example of his apostolic zeal,
inspire us to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Ooooh, don’t get me started on the textbooks. A special peeve of mine. And you, which textbooks do you like the most?
"Walk with Blessed Junipero Serra as he traces our Lord's footsteps in search of workers for the vineyard."
Holy Spirit, you are the love and light of the world. Continue to give all Serrans the courage and generosity to respond ardently to your call.
With one voice now, all Serrans say, "Here I am Lord." Fire each of us with a renewed spirit and enthusiasm to work for vocations for our Church.
Deepen our commitment to the Serran mission that we may, indeed, walk "in his steps" on our journey.
Father, we ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord, through the intercession of Blessed Junipero Serra and Mary, the Mother of the Church and religious vocations.
July 1: The Feast Day of Blessed Junipero Serra
Blessed Junipero Serra
One of the seminal figures in the 18th century history of what is today the state of California is Blessed Junipero Serra. A Franciscan friar from the Spanish island of Mallorca, Blessed Junipero was born in 1713. We celebrate his feast day on July 1.
Junipero a religious name (his birth name was Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer) spent the first 35 years of his life as a student and professor of theology and then as a preacher. At 35 years of age, however, he felt a call from God to become a missionary in the Americas, much like St. Francis Solanus.
Landing in Veracruz, Mexico, Junipero and a friend hiked 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way one of Juniperos legs became infected after an insect bite. It would bother him for the rest of his life, but would not deter him from his missionary work. This included 18 years of activity in Central Mexico and the Baja Peninsula, a number of which were spent as president of missions for those regions.
Mission San Carlo Borromeo in Carmel, California
In 1769, King Charles III of Spain ordered the exploration and settlement of what is today the state of California. He did not want the Russian Empire to swallow the area from the north. Part of the settlement plan involved the foundation of missions along the way. The Franciscans took on this role and Junipero was a key presence among them. He travelled as far north as San Francisco, stood up for the rights of Native Americans, baptized 6000 people and confirmed 5,000. He died in 1784 and was beatified in 1988. His grave can be found at Mission San Carlo Borromeo in Carmel, California.