Junípero Serra

Saint Junípero Serra, O.F.M.
Junípero Serra.jpg
A portrait of Serra
Apostle of California
BornMiquel Josep Serra i Ferrer
(1713-11-24)November 24, 1713
Petra, Majorca, Spain
Died(1784-08-28)August 28, 1784
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, Las Californias, New Spain, Spanish Empire
Beatified25 September 1988, Saint Peter's Square by Pope John Paul II
Canonized23 September 2015, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Francis
Major shrineMission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, United States
AttributesFranciscan habit, wearing a large crucifix, or holding a crucifix accompanied by a young Native American boy
Patronage
ControversySuppression of Native American culture, forced labor by Native Americans
Monument of Junípero Serra (with Juaneño Indian boy) on the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis in Havana, Cuba

Junípero Serra y Ferrer, O.F.M., (ə/; Spanish: [xuˈnipeɾo ˈsera], Catalan: Juníper Serra i Ferrer) (November 24, 1713 – August 28, 1784) was a Roman Catholic Spanish priest and friar of the Franciscan Order who founded a mission in Baja California and the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in California from San Diego to San Francisco, in what was then Alta California in the Province of Las Californias, New Spain. Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988, in Vatican City. Pope Francis canonised him on September 23, 2015, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., during his first visit to the United States.[3] Because of Serra's recorded acts of piety combined with his missionary efforts, he was granted[by whom?] the posthumous title Apostle of California.

The declaration of Serra as a Catholic saint by the Holy See is controversial with some Native Americans who criticize Serra's treatment of their ancestors and associate him with the suppression of their culture.[4]

Early life

Serra (born Miquel Jose Serra, November 24, 1713 – August 28, 1784) was born in the village of Petra on the island of Majorca (Mallorca) off the Mediterranean coast of Spain. A few hours after birth, he was baptized in the village church. His baptismal name was Miquel José Serra.[5] His father Antonio Nadal Serra and mother Margarita Rosa Ferrer were married in 1707.[6]

By age seven, Miquel was working the fields with his parents, helping cultivate wheat and beans, and tending the cattle. But he showed a special interest in visiting the local Franciscan friary at the church of San Bernardino within a block of the Serra family house. Attending the friars' primary school at the church, Miquel learned reading, writing, mathematics, Latin, religion and liturgical song, especially Gregorian chant. Gifted with a good voice, he eagerly took to vocal music. The friars sometimes let him join the community choir and sing at special church feasts. Miquel and his father Antonio often visited the friary for friendly chats with the Franciscans.[7]

At age 16, Miquel's parents enrolled him in a Franciscan school in the capital city, Palma de Majorca, where he studied philosophy. A year later, he became a novice in the Franciscan order.[8]

Joins Franciscan order

On September 14, 1730, some two months before his 17th birthday, Serra entered the Franciscan Order at Palma,[9][10] specifically, the Alcantarine branch of the Friars Minor, a reform movement in the Order. The slight and frail Serra now embarked on his novitiate period, a rigorous year of preparation to become a full member of the Franciscan Order. He was given the religious name of Junípero in honor of Brother Juniper, who had been among the first Franciscans and was a companion of Saint Francis.[11] The young Junípero, along with his fellow novices, vowed to scorn property and comfort, and to remain celibate. He still had seven years to go to become an ordained Catholic priest. He immersed himself in rigorous studies of logic, metaphysics, cosmology, and theology.

The daily routine at the friary followed a rigid schedule: prayers, meditation, choir singing, physical chores, spiritual readings, and instruction. The friars would wake up every midnight for another round of chants. Serra's superiors discouraged letters and visitors.[12] In his free time, he avidly read stories about Franciscan friars roaming the provinces of Spain and around the world to win new souls for the church, often suffering martyrdom in the process. He followed the news of famous missionaries winning beatification and sainthood.

In 1737, Serra became a priest, and three years later earned an ecclesiastical license to teach philosophy at the Convento de San Francisco. His philosophy course, including over 60 students, lasted three years. Among his students were fellow future missionaries Francisco Palóu and Juan Crespí.[13] When the course ended in 1743, Serra told his students: "I desire nothing more from you than this, that when the news of my death shall have reached your ears, I ask you to say for the benefit of my soul: 'May he rest in peace.' Nor shall I omit to do the same for you so that all of us will attain the goal for which we have been created."[14]

Serra was considered intellectually brilliant by his peers. He received a doctorate in theology from the Lullian College (founded in the 14th century by Ramon Lull for the training of Franciscan missionaries) in Palma de Majorca, where he also occupied the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy until he joined the missionary College of San Fernando de Mexico in 1749.[15]

During Serra's last five years on the island of Majorca, drought and plague afflicted his home village of Petra. Serra sometimes went home from Palma for brief visits to his parents—now separated—and gave them some financial support. On one occasion he was called home to anoint his seriously ill father with the last rites. In one of his final visits to Petra, Serra found his younger sister Juana María near death.[16]

In 1748, Serra and Palóu confided to each other their desire to become missionaries. Serra, now 35, was assured a prestigious career as priest and scholar if he stayed in Majorca; but he set his sights firmly on pagan lands. Applying to the colonial bureaucracy in Madrid, Serra requested that both he and Palóu embark on a foreign mission. After weathering some administrative obstacles, they received permission and set sail for Cádiz, the port of departure for Spain's colonies in the Americas.

While waiting to set sail, Serra wrote a long letter to a colleague back in Majorca, urging him to console Serra's parents—now in their 70's—over their only son's pending departure. "They [my parents] will learn to see how sweet is His yoke," Serra wrote, "and that He will change for them the sorrow they may now experience into great happiness. Now is not the time to muse or fret over the happenings of life but rather to be conformed entirely to the will of God, striving to prepare themselves for that happy death which of all the things of life is our principal concern."[17] Serra asked his colleague to read this letter to his parents, who had never attended school.[18]

Other Languages
español: Junípero Serra
français: Junípero Serra
Bahasa Indonesia: Junípero Serra
italiano: Junípero Serra
Kiswahili: Junipero Serra
Nederlands: Junípero Serra
português: Junípero Serra
Simple English: Junipero Serra