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.
A new exhibit on the life of Junípero Serra made its New York debut in January. It tells the story of the missionary from Mallorca in his own words.
Junipero Serra was born Miguel José Serra on November 24, 1713, in the town of Petra on the island of Mallorca, Spain, 302 years ago.
You can read more about Junipero Serra’s life here.
The Academy of American Franciscan History has released a new video documentary on Junipero Serra, Introducing Junipero Serra: The Newest Saint.
One of the important points that comes across in this documentary is the fact that Father Serra saw missions — where previously nomadic groups lived in settled communities — not as a way to exploit indigenous labor, but as one of the best ways to protect indigenous peoples against colonial exploitation. Serra’s idea grew out of his previous experience in the Sierra Gorda region of south central Mexico (or New Spain as it was called at the time) and he vowed to apply it in Alta California.