Serra Short Biography

Who is Saint Junípero Serra?

Serra SignatureSerra StatueA short biography: Saint Serra was born Miguel Jose Serra 24 November 1713 at Petra on the Island of Majorca. He died 28 August 1784 and is buried at the mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. On 14 September 1730 he entered the Franciscan Order. He received a Doctor of Theology degree from Lullian University at Palma and, in 1749, joined the missionary college of San Fernando, Mexico. In Mexico he sustained a leg injury which plagued him the rest of his life; but he continued to travel by walking. He served in the missions, eventually finding himself superior of a band of fifteen Franciscans for the Indian Missions of Lower (Baja) California. In 1769 he joined Portolá’s land expedition to Upper (Alta) California. In May, in Baja California, he established the Mission San Fernando de Velicatá. He arrived in San Diego on 1 July and on 16 July founded the first of the 21 California missions where he ministered until his death. Saint Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 25 September 1988. His statue represents California in the National Statuary Hall. His feast day is 1 July.

Update: In January 2015 Pope Francis announced he planned to canonize Saint Serra in September 2015 on his visit to the United States. The canonization took place in Washington, D.C. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, 23 Sept 2015. Below are two screen captures from the video stream provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The first is Andrew Galvan, Curator at Mission Dolores in San Francisco and Ohlone/Miwok tribe member, and the relics of Saint Serra embedded into a cross as part of the Canonization ceremony.

Andrew Galvan at Serra Canonization Mass

Andrew Galvan (in suit and feathers) at Serra Canonization Mass

The cross in some detail.

Serra Relics at Canonization Mass

Serra Relics at Canonization Mass