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Junipero Serra (1713-1784 AD)

Junipero Serra

Junipero Serra

Feast Day: July 1
Beatified: September 25, 1988
Canonized: September 23, 2015

Born Miguel Jose Serra on the Spanish island of Majorca, this future saint attended a Franciscan school where his intellectual abilities caught the attention of his teachers. In 1730, he entered the Franciscan order and took the name Junipero. Ordained in 1737, Serra taught philosophy and theology until he decided in 1749 to travel to the Americas and join his fellow

Franciscans at the missionary College of San Fernando in Mexico. Upon arriving at Vera Cruz, he walked more than 200 miles to Mexico City. On the journey, he suffered a mosquito bite that left one leg swollen. He suffered difficulty walking for the rest of his life. Beginning in 1769, Serra founded 21 missions in California from San Diego to San Francisco. He baptized and confirmed thousands of Native Americans and taught them European methods of agriculture, cattle, husbandry and crafts. He died at Monterey, Calif., at the age of 70.

Serra is the patron of Serra International, a group dedicated to promoting vocations. Serra’s statue, representing the state of California, is in the U.S. Capitol Building’s National Statuary Hall. Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988 and canonized by Pope Francis in 2015 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

BRIAN FRAGA is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.