People often ask who founded the Spanish missions in California. And while Fr. Junípero Serra and Fr. Fermín Francisco de Lasuén are rightly credited as the main mission founders, several other missionaries were involved in establishing missions in California.
The winter solstice illuminations are a fascinating and little-known aspect of the California missions. This is the story of my trip to witness this phenomenon.
Note: this is an updated version of an earlier post written at the time of Serra’s canonization.
Catholics and non-Catholics alike seem to be interested in whether Junipero Serra should be declared a saint. In the previous post I gave an outline of the long process that Junipero Serra — or any other would-be saint — must undergo in order to be officially recognized by the Catholic Church. Given the controversy surrounding Serra’s case, some have asked why bother declaring him a saint? Can’t everyone agree to disagree without raising him up as an example to a billion Catholics? Was it an ill-considered or rush decision by successor of the fisherman?
When Pope Francis announced that he was going to declare sainthood for Junipero Serra during a flight to Manila in January 2015, some people took it as an impromptu decision. And while the announcement might have been made on the spur of the moment, the process that led to it was anything but.
When the Catholic Church declares someone a saint (including Junipero Serra), a long, deliberate protocol must be followed. The aim is to reach a maximum certainty about the worthiness of the person canonized (declared a saint). But worthiness for what?