St. Junípero Serra (Feast: July 1)
Junipero Serra, the indomitable apostle of California, was born on the Spanish island of Mallorca and baptized Miguel Jose. Later entering the Franciscan Order, he took the name of St Francis' childlike companion, Brother Juniper.
He received a doctorate in theology from Lullian University in Palma de Mallorca, where he also occupied the Dons Scotus chair of philosophy. He was also known as a great preacher.
In 1749 he gave up everything to follow his long-harbored desire of helping to convert the natives in the new world after hearing about the missions of St. Francis Solano.
Arriving in Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way, Fr. Junipero hurt his leg, which never fully healed, a condition at times life-threatening, and which caused him discomfort for the rest of his life.
He worked for eighteen years in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula, and then was convinced by Capitan Juan Galvez to follow him on a 900-mile journey to present-day Monterey, California.
Fr. Junipero founded his first mission, that of San Diego, in 1769, which almost had to be quit due to a shortage of food. Vowing to stay with the local people, he began a novena to Saint Joseph. On March 19, the scheduled day for departure, the relief ship arrived.
From San Diego, the holy Franciscan, traveling indefatigably despite his bad leg, established another eight missions. Twelve more missions were founded after his death.
When insurmountable difficulties arose with a military commander, he made the grueling trip to Mexico City and there obtained from the Viceroy the famous document known as the “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation of California, a sort of “Bill of Rights.”
Friar Junipero’s life was one long battle with the elements, the terrain, the cold and hunger, with unsympathetic commanders, and even danger of death from non-Christian natives. But he fed his unquenchable zeal with a life of prayer, often in the hours from midnight to dawn.
He brought the Native Americans the gift of the Catholic Faith, the gift of a better quality of life and won their love in the process. At his death in 1784 he was sorely grieved.
He is buried at the Mission San Carlo Borromeo and was beatified in 1988.
Junipero Serra was canonized on September 23rd 2015, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washing D.C. by Pope Francis.
DAILY QUOTE for September 29, 2020
In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.