Feast of Saint Junípero Serra
(1713 – 1784)
St. Junipero Serra was born to a farming family on the Spanish island of Majorca. He was baptized the same day he was born, and was later sent to be educated by the Franciscans. In 1730 he joined the Franciscans and was ordained to the priesthood. St. Junipero was considered brilliant by his peers; he was well-trained in philosophy and theology, and taught at the university. In 1750 he traveled to the New World and began ministering to the people of Mexico City. In 1768 he moved north and began working in the Californian missions. As a result of his tireless missionary efforts, he is largely responsible for the spread of Catholicism along the western coast of the United States—as testified by the many Californian cities with Spanish Christian names. He founded the first nine of twenty-one Catholic missions that spread along the California coast. He converted thousands of Native Americans to the Christian faith and taught them new methods of agriculture, animal husbandry, and craftsmanship. He died from tuberculosis at the age of 71. The Native Americans he ministered wept at his death out of their love for him. Junipero Serra was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1988 and canonized by Pope Francis during his trip to the United States in 2015, the first canonization Mass to ever take place on American soil.
His feast day is July 1st.
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He lived and worked alongside native peoples and spent his whole career defending their humanity and protesting crimes and indignities committed against them…
For St. Junípero, the natives were not just powerless victims of colonial brutality. In his letters, he describes their “gentleness and peaceful dispositions,” he celebrates their creativity and knowledge; he remembers little acts of kindness and generosity, even the sweet sound of their voices as they sang.
He learned their languages and their ancient customs and ways. St. Junípero came not to conquer, he came to be a brother. ‘We have all come here and remained here for the sole purpose of their well-being and salvation,’ he once wrote. ‘And I believe everyone realizes we love them.’”
Archbishop José H. Gomez, “Letter to the faithful for the memorial of St. Junípero Serra,” June 29, 2020
Most Reverend José H. Gomez is the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Catholic community. He also serves as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
All my life I have wanted to be a missionary. I have wanted to carry the Gospel message to those who have never heard of God and the kingdom he has prepared for them.”
Saint Junípero Serra
Saint Junípero Serra, Tireless Missionary, Franciscan Friend of the Native American, pray for us.
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family pray for us. Amen.