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Junipero Serra, the indomitable apostle of California, was born on the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean Sea and received the name Miguel Jose in Baptism. Later entering the Franciscan Order, he took the name of Saint Francis of Assisi’s childlike companion, Brother Juniper, and came to be known as Fray Junipero.

His was a “rags-to-riches” story. Born into poverty but brilliant of intellect, before the age of 30 he held a doctorate in theology and occupied the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy at the Lullian University in Palma de Mallorca.

Renowned as a preacher and professor, he could easily have become the dean of the university and more but at the age of 36 he gave up all earthly semblance of glory to follow his long-harbored desire to evangelize the natives in the New World.

The inspiration of his missionary zeal was another Franciscan, the great 16th century apostle of South America, St. Francis Solano.

Arriving in Vera Crux in Mexico, Fray Junipero and a companion walked 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way, Fray Junipero hurt his leg, which never fully healed, a condition that was life-threatening at times and which caused him much discomfort for the rest of his life.

 

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He worked for eighteen years in central Mexico and the Baja California Peninsula, and then was convinced by Capitan Juan Galvez to follow him on a 900-mile journey to present-day Monterey, California.

Fray Junipero Serra was 54 when he took charge of the missions in Alta California, heading a group of fifteen Franciscans. He founded his first mission – San Diego de Alcalá – in 1769. This first mission was followed by another eight in his own lifetime, a holy endeavor that would expand to a total of 21 after his death. Many of these became the centers of great cities like San Diego. The Apostle of California baptized 6,000 people and traveled 20,000 miles on his bad leg.

Encountering difficulties with the military commander and lieutenant-governor of California Nueva, Fray Junipero made the grueling trip to Mexico City and there obtained from the Viceroy the famous Representación, protecting the Indians and the missions. This document was the basis for the first significant legislation of California, a sort of “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans.

Fray Junipero Serra’s life was one long battle with the elements, the terrain, cold and hunger, unsympathetic commanders, and even danger of death from non-Christian natives. But he fed his unquenchable zeal with a life of intense prayer, often from midnight to dawn.

He brought the Native Americans the gift of faith and a better quality of life, and won their love in the process. This ardent and zealous son of St. Francis died in 1784 at the age 70 at Mission San Carlos Borromeo and was beatified in 1988.

Such was the virtue, the tenacity, and the sheer courage of this man of God, that even secularist biographers, who struggle to understand Fr. Junipero’s astounding asceticism and heroic generosity, salute the man. Such was his contribution to the civilization of our nation that a bronze representation of him, cross held high, stands in the National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol, in Washington D.C.

Just weeks after Pope Francis announced his intention of canonizing Blessed Junipero Serra during his visit to the United States, California’s openly homosexual Senator Ricardo Lara began moving to replace the statue of our venerable saint with that of Sally Ride the first female astronaut, who was also a lesbian.

Junipero Serra was canonized on September 23rd 2015, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washing D.C. by Pope Francis.

 

The nine missions Blessed Junipero founded: 

 


 

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 12, 2020

“Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the...

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July 12

 

“Know you not
that you are the temple of God, and
that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
(1 Corinthians 3:16)

St. Paul the Apostle


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. John Gualbert

Meeting his brother’s murderer in a narrow alley, he was a...

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St. John Gualbert

John Gualbert or Giovanni Gualberto, was a Florentine nobleman who one day, meeting his brother’s murderer in a narrow alley was about to slay him when the culprit, falling to his knees, implored mercy with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross. It was a Good Friday, and Gualbert, suddenly reminded of Jesus Crucified, embraced the man and forgave him.

Going on his way, John entered the monastery of St. Miniato where he knelt before a crucifix. As he prayed, the crucifix miraculously bowed his head in thanks for John’s act of generosity. Struck to the heart, Gualbert sought the abbot, asked to be given the religious habit, and was ultimately accepted.

He later left St. Miniato with a companion, looking for a more perfect way of life and founded, in Vallombrosa near Fiesole, a new order based on the primitive, austere rule of St. Benedict adapted to the particular circumstances of his time.

He was known for his zeal but also for his mildness, and for making the burden of discipline sweet. In his humility he never received even minor orders. He zealously fought simony, which is the sale of ecclesiastical posts.

His order grew and monasteries multiplied, which were a blessing to their regions and especially to the poor, as no beggar was ever turned away empty handed.

Popes sought his wise counsel, and Pope Alexander II testified that the whole country where he lived owed the extinction of simony to his zeal.

John Gualbert died on July 12, 1073 being eighty or more years of age. Pope Celestine III canonized him in 1193.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protest...

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Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)

“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 

With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.

At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”

During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.

With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.

John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”

by Joseph Ferrara

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John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California 

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