Another Catholic missionary who played an important role in our country’s history was Blessed Junipero Serra.
He was born on the island of Mallorca, Spain in 1713.
At the age of 16, he entered the Franciscan order and eventually became a distinguished professor of philosophy.
Though he had made a comfortable life for himself, he decided at the age of 36 to join the missions in Mexico. Twenty years later, in 1769, he was given responsibility over the mission territory of California.
In all, he had responsibility over 21 missions spreading over 700 miles, nine of which he founded.
Blessed Junipero Serra is considered by most historians to be the founder of the modern state of California. The missions he founded - which included San Diego and San Francisco - became some of the state’s major cities. He introduced roads and a system of agriculture and irrigation which provided the infrastructure for the state’s economy. And his efforts to establish laws protecting the native peoples from the Spanish authorities and soldiers became the backbone of California’s legal system.
Blessed Junipero Serra died on August 28, 1784. His life and work stands as a witness to the role religion played in the founding of our country, in its expansion and in its continued development.