July 1 - Blessed Junipero Serra

Entered the Franciscan University at Palma, Spain at age 15, and joined the Order at age 17, taking the nameJunipero after the friend of Saint Francis. Ordained in 1737, and taught philosophy andtheology at the Lullian University.

In 1749, Serra was sent to the missionary territories of the west of North America. A mosquito bite he received early in his trip to the New World left one leg swollen; this and his asthma made walking a painful process for the rest of his life. In 1768 he took overmissions in the Mexican provinces of Lower and Upper California, missions the Jesuitswere forced to abandon by order of King Charles III. A tireless worker, Serra was largely responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States. Founded twenty-one missions, converted thousands of Native Americans, andtrained many of them in European methods of agriculture, cattle husbandry, and crafts. Dedicated religious and missionary, penitent and austere in all areas of his life.

Blessed Junipero Serra is the namesake of the Serra Club, an international Catholicorganization dedicated to the promotion of vocations, and the support of seminarians and religious novices. Many of his letters and other writings have survived, and the diary of his travels to the west was published in the early 20th century.