Coming Monday: Junipero Serra

This week on “The Saints: Adventures of Faith and Courage,” we leave Saint Charbel in the desert and turn our attention to the Apostle of California: Junipero Serra!

Serra was born on November 24, 1713 in Majorca, Spain as Miguel José. He was raised working in the fields and among Franciscan friars. He had a good singing voice and was occasionally invited to sing with the choir at Mass, and he had an interest in philosophy and learned to read. He entered the Franciscan Order at Palma at 16 years old. He became a priest in 1737 and had received the name Junípero after Brother Juniper, one of Francis of Assisi’s initial friends and followers in the 1200s.

The young priest had a bright career in Majorca, but he had a continuous desire to be a missionary. He arrived in Veracruz, New Spain (modern-day Mexico), and journeyed to Mexico City through forests, volcanic and desert landscapes, and a bug bite that left him with a leg wound for the rest of his life. He served as a missionary to the Querétaro region, where the Pame indigenous people lived. Serra did his best to learn and teach in the native Pame language. He led a procession of the Stations of the Cross and the Last Supper with Pame participants, and after two years of ministering and helping them obtain what they needed to farm well, learn new skills, and embrace the Catholic faith.

So what led this man to the Americas, to found 8 mission cities in California, and confirm over 5,000 newly baptized faithful and more? Find out on May 20th with the newest Saints series at!