Blessed Junipero Serra
Founder of the California Missions

 

Blessed Junipero Serra - The long dusty, desolate road to  California!Santa Barbara Mission founded by Blessed Junipero Serra

         When Serra arrived at his new post, the 40,000 Indians reported by the Jesuits were now a mere 8,000.  Serra, who loved the Indians dearly, described them as a handsome people.  But sadly, the huts were so poor and conditions so deplorable, 1000 Indians were dying each year, and the death rate of infants 100%.  It is believed that Indian women were purposely aborting their babies rather than have them starve to death.  Disease finished off those Indians who did not die of starvation.  Father Palóu prophesied, if conditions remained as they were, Baja would be left without a single soul.  Father Serra's year here, which had begun with so much enthusiasm, ended with disappointment.  At first, not in keeping with the other missions in Mexico, the missionaries were to have a say in only the spiritual aspects of the missions.  When the newly appointed inspector general saw the impossible conditions, he most willingly handed over all the responsibility to Father Serra and the missionaries.  No sooner did Serra begin to work on change, than he was summoned to engage in the evangelization of what was called then Alta California (or California).

          In 1769, when Friar Junípero had been transferred to Baja or lower California, although man thought it was for him to run the fifteen missions seized from the Jesuits, God had another idea.  Father Serra was informed, barely one year after having arrived in Baja that he was to pioneer the settlement of missions in Alta or upper California. 

          On July 1, 1769, he arrived in San Diego, and on July 2nd, he celebrated the first Mass in what is now known as the famous California Missions.  He was 56 and the biggest challenge of his life faced him, all that he had received in education, all the spiritual preparations he had made, the austerities he had practiced most of his life would be for this one act, this his last gift to the Lord and His Mother.  California would be consecrated, every hill, valley, mountain, village, every street would be blessed.  

I shall not turn back!

          It took Father Serra almost twenty years, from the time he was first summoned to come to the New World and serve in the missions, before he got to his first California Mission in San Diego, in what is today the State of California.  Those twenty years prior to arriving at San Diego were at times a painful prelude, filled with joy and sorrows, readying him for his biggest challenge, setting up missions a day's walk apart up the coast of California.  The missionary who worked furtively his last years on earth was tired and more dead than alive.  When one of his companions begged him to stop, his legs so badly swollen and in pain that he could not celebrate Mass standing, Father Serra refused saying,

          "Please do not speak of that, for I trust that if God will give me the strength to reach San Diego, as He has given me the strength to come this far, I shall not turn back.  They can bury me wherever they wish and I shall gladly be left among the pagans, if it be the Will of God." 

          It had taken him almost three months to reach San Diego from Baja California.  Half dead, most of the time, he never turned back!

          December 26, 1770, Father Serra performed his first baptism in California.  In addition to San Diego and San Carlos del Carmel, Father Serra went on to found San Antonio de Padua in July, 1771; San Gabriel in September, 1771; San Luis Obispo in September, 1772; San Francisco in October, 1776; San Juan Capistrano in January, 1777; and San Buenaventura in March 1782.


 
[1]Russia

[2]Marin county, California

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Blessed Junipero Serra DVD

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Viewer Comments: Dear Bob and Penny:
I love your show!  You are so informed on all of the wonderful people, who have served Our Lord through the ages.  They all defended the Faith, and served with their lives for the love of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  They  are truly God’s superheroes.
The pilgrimages that you have taken and have shown on your programs have inspired me to want to go on pilgrimages.  Someday, I would love to go to Mexico to visit Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I have seen copy of the tilma of Juan Diego, at a local church here in California.  It was truly beautiful.
Living in California, I have visited some of the California Missions.  I consider that a sort of pilgrimage as well.  I do hope they make Bl. Junipera Serra a Saint soon.  And thank you for clearing up the story that the Franciscan Friars did not force the Chumash Indians into Christianity. That was something I had heard about for so long.  I just did not want to believe that falsehood.
Anyway, thank you again for your wonderful programs, and keep up the great work.
God Bless you both,
C. K.  CA

Blessed Junipero Serra dvd

Apostle of California
Founder of the California Missions
Taped at the California Missions
Pope Benedict XVI
"Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints."

Visit the California Missions, the legacy of Blessed Junipero Serra, apostle of California.
Learn of his great love for the Missions and the Natives of the new world.  Walk through his early priesthood in
Mallorca, Spain, to the missions of Mexico, and then to the Missions of California. Come with us to the  Mission Santa Barbara, then on to San Juan Capistrano, where we meet some of the natives from that area and speak to the people at that shrine. Finally, we visit his Shrine at Carmel Mission, where he is buried, and his his cell and tomb are open for the public to venerate him there.
 Learn why he is called the Apostle of California, and of the California Missions.

ISBN 1-58002-020-8 $19.95
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