Junípero Serra

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Fray Junípero Serra (known as Fra Juníper Serra in Catalan, his mother tongue [1]) (November 24, 1713 – August 28, 1784) was a Majorcan Franciscan friar who founded the mission chain in Alta California of the Las Californias Province in New Spain - present day California, United States. Fr. Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988 and given the title Blessed Fray Junípero Serra.



Junípero Serra was born Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer[2] in Petra, Majorca, Spain. He later took the name "Junípero" in honor of Saint Juniper, who had also been a Franciscan and a follower of Saint Francis. On September 14, 1730, he entered the Order of Friars Minor. For his proficiency in studies he was appointed lector of philosophy before his ordination to the priesthood. Later he received a doctorate in theology from the Lullian University in Palma de Mallorca, where he also occupied the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy until he joined the missionary College of San Fernando de Mexico in 1749.

That year he journeyed to North America, first to Mexico City, where he taught. Father Serra refused to ride the mule that was provided him and walked from Veracruz to the capital. He was bitten by an insect and suffered from it throughout his life, though he continued to make his journeys on foot whenever necessary. He requested a transfer to the Sierra Gorda Indian Missions some 90 miles north of Santiago de Querétaro where he spent about nine years. During this time, he served as the mission's superior, learned the language of the Pame Indians, and translated the catechism into their language. Recalled to Mexico City, 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 lit torch to his bare chest. He established ten missions including Velicata.

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