Biography of Junípero Serra (1713-1784)

Spanish Franciscan missionary born November 24, 1713 in Petra (Mallorca) and died in 1784 at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo (Monterey, California). His real name was Miguel Serre Ferrer.

It exercised their apostolate in Mexico. After work in the Baja California was sent to Alta California, where he/she founded the missions model San Diego (1769), San Carlos de Monterrey (1776), Santa Clara (1777), San Gabriel (1771), San Luis Obispo (1772), San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776) and San Buenaventura (1782), many of which have been the origin large North American cities.

Belonging to a humble family of farmers, formed by Antonio Serre and Margarita Ferrer, he/she received his first training in the Franciscan convent of his native town (San Bernardino). In 1729, his parents moved to Mallorca and Miguel began to study philosophy at the convent of San Francisco and Jesus, in Palma de Mallorca. At the age of 17 (September 15, 1731) professed in the Franciscan order (1730) and passing the approval took the name of fray Junipero, one of the most humble followers of San Francisco de Asís. Doctorate in theology by the University of Palma de Mallorca, he/she devoted himself to teaching from 1740 and occupied the Chair of theology at the University between 1743 and 1749. In 1749 he/she obtained superiors the move to Mexico and in August of that year embarked in Cadiz for their destination, where he/she arrived in December. After spending five months at the San Fernando School of the city of Mexico, he/she was sent to the missions of the Sierra Gorda (Querétaro) with his friend, colleague and biographer Francisco Palou. It was there eight years dedicated to their apostolic work and learned the language of the pames (belonging to the Otomí language family). It was his true apprenticeship as a missionary. He/She then returned to the San Fernando School of the city of Mexico and served as priest in the Christian communities of Guadalajara, Oaxaca and the coast north of Veracruz.

After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, fray Junipero was assigned to the missions of baja California (March 1768) with Francisco Palou and other thirteen missionaries. The Franciscans took over eighteen missions who had to leave the Jesuits there, but soon had to change region, since the visitor José de Gálvez had prepared a plan of occupation of Alta California with the Franciscans. Fray Junipero had to start from Loreto with peers and with the forces of Lieutenant don Gaspar de Portolà to Alta California. July 16, 1769 founded San Diego de Alcalá, the first of a series of missions. In 1770 he/she went to Monterey Bay with Portola, where he/she founded the Mission of San Carlos Borromeo, followed by San Antonio of Padua and St. Gabriel Arcángel, in 1771, and a year later San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

In 1772 fray Junipero traveled to the city of Mexico to inform the new viceroy Antonio María Bucareli y Ursúa (successor of Carlos Francisco de Croix) of the State of California missions. Fruit of this interview was the elaboration, in 1773, of a regulation that regulated the Government of Alta California, which missionaries left the protection of Indians and issues of material nature and military organization. Franciscan missions grouped the Indians in nearby villages where taught them agriculture, livestock farming and some trades, as well as Religion. In each mission, there were usually two Franciscans, one responsible for the apostolic work and other agriculture and manual trades teaching. It was a paternalistic work guided entirely by Spanish missionaries.

In January 1774, fray Junipero returned to California and took place the founding of other missions: San Francisco of Assisi, created by Palou in 1776, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Clara, the following year, and San Buenaventura in 1782. Viceroy Bucareli's death and the war with Great Britain, in 1779, stopped the expansive work of fray Junípero Serra, who died in 1784 at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo (Monterrey). He/She was beatified by Pope Juan Pablo II in 1988. Fray Junipero missions would emerge as major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, Monterey.


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