Junípero Serra

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Burial place of brother Junípero Serra in the Mission Church in Carmel

Brother Junípero Serra or Catalan Fra Juníper Serra (born November 24, 1713 in Petra , Mallorca , † August 28, 1784 in San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo in California ) was a religious priest and Franciscan . He is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and is considered the founder of the city of San Francisco . His feast day is August 28th.


Plaque on the parish church of Sant Pere in Petra

Junípero Serra was born in 1713 as Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer . At that time there had been a Franciscan monastery in his birthplace Petra for over a hundred years, where school lessons were also given. At the age of 16, the farmer's son Miquel Josep Serra joined the Franciscans and took the religious name Junípero to dress . Brother Junípero studied at the University of Lulliana in Palma and obtained the Doctor theologiae . From 1744 to 1749 he worked in Palma as a preacher and lecturer at the university. He was then sent to the viceroyalty of New Spain as a member of a group of Franciscans .

For about twenty years he taught at the Colegio de San Fernando in Mexico City and at the mission stations of the Sierra Gorda in central Mexico (e.g. Jalpan de Serra ); he translated the catechism Romanus into the language of the local Pame Indians. Appointed commissioner of the Inquisition in 1752, as part of his missionary work he also led trials of witchcraft against Indian medicine men . In 1768 he was sent to Baja California to take over the management of all mission stations there. These were once used by Jesuits founded and operated the Jesuits had been expelled from the Viceroyalty of New Spain but in 1767, as a few months earlier from all over Spain. Brother Junípero traveled all over Baja California, founded a new mission station, the Misión San Fernando Rey de España de Velicatá , and reached San Diego on July 1, 1769 , where the Presidio of San Diego military base had existed since May of that year . Junípero Serra also set up the first mission station in Alta California , the Mission San Diego de Alcalá . From here he moved north on the coast to Monterey and was involved in the establishment of eleven of the twenty-one mission stations in California over the course of time . Many of the missions evolved over time into cities with Spanish names: San Diego, Los Angeles or Santa Barbara . Most of these names were given by Junípero Serra after saints to whom the side altars in the Church of St. Saint Bernard of Siena in his native Petra. Brother Junípero died in 1784 in what is now Carmel, California.


Statue of Junípero Serra in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Statue of Junípero Serra in Palma , Mallorca

Fray Junípero Serra was beatified on September 25, 1988 . Pope Francis canonized Fray Junípero Serra at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC on September 23, 2015.

On the northern edge of Petra is the parish church of Sant Pere, built from the 16th to the 18th century on the foundations of an older church. The baptismal font over which the newborn Miquel Josep was held is also part of the rich interior. Via Carrer Major you get to the convent of St. Bernhard, founded in 1607 and the seat of the monastery school of the young Junípero Serra. A memorial in front of the building reminds of various stages in his life. Carrer Fra Juníper leads west from the convent , past a series of tile pictures of the various missions, to the birthplace and museum of the Franciscan. The house where Junípero Serras was born is in the oldest part of the village, on Carrer Barrancar Alt. Nearby, a house built in 1959 houses the Museu de Pare Serra, a museum devoted to the life of the missionary using maps, paintings and documentation.

Junípero Serras Patronage is subordinate to Serra International , an international lay community for the promotion of spiritual professions in the Roman Catholic Church . Brother Junípero is revered as the city founder in the United States . His bust stands in the Capitol in Washington, DC , surrounded by other heroes of the American nation.


Indigenous people in particular criticize his canonization, because ancestors also suffered from the activities of this missionary. An online petition against canonization was supported by over 10,000 signatories.

The relationship to the Indian population is controversial. Older works assumed that he was received kindly. According to this, there was no mistreatment of indigenous people. Other sources describe that 90,000 Native Americans were forcibly served and detained in their missions with the support of the Army. They had to give up their language and customs and were obliged to do forced labor. Of an estimated 310,000 Indian residents who lived in California in 1769, 100 years later only a sixth was left.

See also


  • Rose Marie Beebe, Robert M. Senkewicz: Junipero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman 2020, ISBN 978-0-8061-6598-1 .
  • Daniel Fogel: Junipero Serra, the Vatican and enslavement theology. ISM Press, San Francisco 1988, ISBN 0-910383-25-1 .
  • Steven W. Hackel: Junípero Serra . California's Founding Father. Hill and Wang, New York 2013, ISBN 978-0-8090-9531-5 (English).
  • Lorenzo Galmés Más: Fray Junípero Serra . Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (BAC), Madrid 1988
  • Mariano Gutiérrez Salazar: Fray Junipero Serra (= Colección Evangelizadores de América , vol. 6). Ediciones Tripode, Caracas 1985.
  • Sylvia L. Hilton: Junípero Serra. Historia, Madrid 1987, ISBN 84-7679-071-6 .
  • Francisco Palou: Junípero Serra y las Misiones de California (= Crónicas de América , vol. 46). Dastin, Las Rozas (Madrid) 2002, ISBN 84-492-0249-3 .
  • Enrique Oltra Perales: Vida de Fray Junípero Serra. Narrada para el hombre de hoy. Ed. Asis, Valencia 1988, ISBN 84-85461-07-X .
  • Andreas C. Walter: saint or sinner? Junípero Serra, the Indian Missions in Upper California, and the Use of History . In: Horst founder (ed.): History & Humanity . Lit, Münster 1994, ISBN 3-89473-354-3 , pp. 77-89.
  • Mildred Violet Woodgate: Junipero Serra. Apostle of California, 1713-1784. The Newman Press, Westminster, Md. 1966.

Web links

Commons : Junípero Serra  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ciro Krauthausen: One Obsessed with Faith. In: Mallorca Zeitung , March 21, 2013, accessed on August 12, 2020 (review of Steven W. Hackel's Serra biography).
  2. ^ Mariano Gutiérrez Salazar: Fray Junipero Serra . Ediciones Tripode, Caracas 1985, p. 72.
  3. Santoral Franciscano: 28 de agosto - Beato Junípero Serra (1713–1784) , accessed September 25, 2015.
  4. Pope Francis Apostolic Journey to Cuba, the United States of America and United Nations Visit - Holy Mass and Canonization of Blessed Junípero Serra, Sermon of the Holy Father, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, Wednesday, September 23 2015 vatican.va accessed September 30, 2015
  5. ^ Andrew J. Campa: Junipero Serra statue to be moved away from Ventura City Hall. Los Angeles Times , June 18, 2020
  6. Clara Akinyosoye: USA: Protests against canonization of missionaries. orf.at, September 17, 2015, accessed on September 25, 2015 .
  7. ^ Mariano Gutiérrez Salazar: Fray Junipero Serra . Ediciones Tripode, Caracas 1985, p. 72.
  8. Carol Pogash: To Some in California, Founder of Church Mission Is Far From Saint. New York Times, January 15, 2015, accessed September 25, 2015 .