Junípero Serra was a Spanish Franciscan friar who established the a series of missions among the native peoples of what is today California. He is considered by many to be the founding father of California and is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.
Junípero Serra was born Miguel José Serra and baptized on November 24, 1713, in the town of Petra on the island of Mallorca, Spain. Though small for his age and somewhat sickly, as a boy he was filled with grand aspirations. The young José had developed an interest in reading the lives of the saints, fascinated in particular by the descriptions of St Francis of Assisi.