A Timeline of a Junipero Serra's Path To Sainthood
A brief look at some of the important events that helped Serra reach sainthood.
Junipero Serra is America's first Latino saint, and the first to be canonized by the pope while on U.S. ground. In the 1700s, Serra founded nine missions for Spain in what is now California. In doing so, Serra helped give rise to the cities that would later become San Diego and San Francisco, and (controversially) baptized thousands of Native Americans. His sainthood is nearly 300 years in the making. Below is a look at some of the more important dates along that long path.
1713 - Junipero Serra is born on the Spanish Island of Majorca. 1730 - Serra takes vows and becomes a Franciscan priest. 1730 - Serra takes vows and becomes a Franciscan priest. (Public Domain) 1749 - Serra leaves Spain for Mexico City to become a missionary in the New World. 1769 - Serra travels north from Mexico, where he founds his first mission in California, called Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala. Serra travels north, where he founds his first mission in California, called Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala. (Sandy Huffaker / Stringer) 1782 - Serra founds Mission San Buenaventura, the ninth and final mission. During this time he is believed to have baptized some 6,000 Native Americans. 1784 - Serra dies at the age of 70 and is buried at Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo. Mission Carmel (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images) 1949 - Scholars begin the first step toward canonization, which is to gather Serra’s writings and other documents written about him. The Catholic church also conducted interviews with the descendants of 200 Californian settlers who knew Serra. 1988 - Pope John Paul II “beatifies” Serra, meaning he is worthy of veneration, which is the second-to-last step to becoming a saint. January, 2015 -Pope Francis announced his intention to make Serra a saint. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)