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.

1730 - Serra takes vows and becomes a Franciscan priest.  (Public Domain)
Serra travels north, where he founds his first mission in California, called Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala. (Sandy Huffaker / Stringer)
Mission Carmel (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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