Home     A - Z    Calendar   Puzzles

Patrons    Subscribe to Newsletter

Find The Saint
FIND THE SAINT logo with new yellow subtitle - Be Inspired To Do Good

July 1

St Junipero Serra - July 1

Saint Junípero Serra

Priest and Missionary,
“Apostle of California”

(1713 – 1284)

“I have placed all my confidence in God, of whose goodness I hope that He will grant me to reach not only San Diego to raise the standard of the Holy Cross in that port, but also Monterey.”

Saint Junípero Serra

His Early Years

Miguel José Serra was born in the village of Petra on the island of Majorca, Spain, on November 24, 1713. He was born the 3rd of 5 children to his father, who was Antonio Nadal Serra, and his mother, who was Margarita Rosa Ferrer. By the age of seven, Miguel was working the fields with his parents, helping cultivate wheat and beans, and tending the cattle. But Miguel showed a special interest in visiting the local Franciscan friary at the church of San Bernardino within a block of the Serra family house. Attending the friars’ primary school at the church, Miguel learned reading, writing, mathematics, Latin, religion and liturgical song, especially Gregorian chant.

Entered Franciscan Order

At age 15, Miguel’s parents enrolled him at the Franciscan University in the capital city, Palma, Spain where he studied philosophy. A year later, he became a novice in the Franciscan order. On September 14, 1730, some two months before his 17th birthday, Miguel entered the Franciscan Order at Palma. Miguel was given the religious name of Junípero in honor of Brother Juniper, who had been among the first Franciscans and a companion of Saint Francis of Assisi. The young Junípero, along with his fellow novices, vowed to scorn property and comfort, and to remain celibate.

Ordained and Received His Doctor of Theology

Junípero immersed himself in rigorous studies of logic, metaphysics, cosmology, and theology. The daily routine at the friary followed a rigid schedule: prayers, meditation, choir singing, physical chores, spiritual readings, and instruction. Seven years later in 1737, Junípero was ordained a priest.

Junípero received a doctorate in theology from the Lullian College in Palma de Majorca, where he also occupied the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy. He taught philosophy and theology at the Lullian University.

When his philosophy course ended in 1743, Junípero told his students: “I desire nothing more from you than this, that when the news of my death shall have reached your ears, I ask you to say for the benefit of my soul: ‘May he rest in peace.’ Nor shall I omit to do the same for you so that all of us will attain the goal for which we have been created.”

Missionary in the New World

In 1749, Junípero was sent to the missionary territories of the west of North America. Junípero and the Franciscan missionary team landed in Veracruz, on the Gulf coast of New Spain (now Mexico). A mosquito bite Junípero received early in his trip to the New World left one leg swollen. Hobbling into Mexico City on January 1, 1750 at the age of thirty-seven, Junípero arrived joined up with his fellow friars at the College of San Fernando de Mexico, a specialized training center and regional headquarters for Franciscan missionaries. This health issue combined with his asthma made walking a painful process for the rest of his life.

Missions in New Spain

Francisco Palóu and Junípero arrived at the village of Jalpan, Mexico, home of the Pame people. Here, they found the mission in disarray where the parishioners, numbering fewer than a thousand, were attending neither confession nor Mass.

Junípero involved Pames parishioners in the ritual reenactment of Jesus’ forced death march. Erecting 14 stations, he led the procession himself, carrying an extremely heavy cross. At each station, the procession paused for a prayer, and at the end Junípero sermonized on the sufferings and death of Jesus. On Holy Thursday, 12 Pames elders reenacted the roles of the apostles. Junípero, in the role of Jesus, washed their feet and then, after the service, dined with them.

Spain’s King Carlos III had expelled all of the Jesuits throughout his New Spain empire. In July 1767, the guardian of the college of San Fernando appointed Junípero president of the missions of Baja California, heading a group of 15 Franciscan friars. Francisco Palóu served as his second in command. In March 1768, Junípero and his missionary team boarded a Spanish sloop at San Blas, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, sailed over 200 miles up the Gulf of California and landed at the Loreto mission in Mexico two weeks later. In 1768, Junípero took over missions in the Mexican provinces of Lower and Upper California, missions the Jesuits were forced to abandon by order of King Charles III.

California Missions

Junípero stood just 5 feet, 2 inches, and, as a journalist later wrote, “He certainly didn’t look like the man who would one day be known as the Apostle of California.” Yet he endured the hardships of the frontier and pressed forward with remarkable determination to fulfill his purpose: to convert the Native Americans of California to Christianity.

Junípero trekked 900 miles (1,400 kilometers) from Loreto and suffered dwindling food supplies along the way, arriving in San Diego, California on July 1, 1769. Junípero wrote “It was a day of great rejoicing and merriment for all because although each one in his respective journey had undergone the same hardships, their meeting … now became the material for mutual accounts of their experiences.” He founded the mission in San Diego in honor of Didacus of Alcalá in a simple shelter on Presidio Hill serving as a temporary church. San Diego was the first of the 21 California missions also founded under Serra’s leadership.

Yet Junípero endured the hardships of the frontier and pressed forward with remarkable determination to fulfill his purpose: to convert the Native Americans of California to Christianity. In pursuit of that goal, Junípero walked thousands of miles between San Diego and Monterey and even Mexico City.

Missions Founded

Under Junípero’s presidency, the following missions were founded:

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, July 16, 1769 (present-day San Diego, California).
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, June 3, 1770 (present-day Carmel-by-the-Sea, California).
Mission San Antonio de Padua, July 14, 1771 (near present-day Jolon, California).
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, September 8, 1771 (present-day San Gabriel, California).
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, September 1, 1772 (present-day city of San Luis Obispo, California).
Mission San Juan Capistrano, November 1, 1776 (present-day San Juan Capistrano, California).
Mission San Francisco de Asís, June 29, 1776 (present-day San Francisco, California chain of missions).
Mission Santa Clara de Asís, January 12, 1777 (present-day city of Santa Clara, California)
Mission San Buenaventura, March 31, 1782 (present-day Ventura, California).
The Presidio of Santa Barbara on April 21, 1782 (Santa Barbara, California)

In 1779, Franciscan missionaries under Junípero’s direction planted California’s first sustained vineyard at Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Hence, he has been called the “Father of California Wine”.

Junípero converted thousands of Native Americans. He also trained many of them in European methods of agriculture, cattle husbandry, and crafts. Junípero was a dedicated religious missionary, penitent and austere in all areas of his life.

His Death

At the age of 70, and after traveling 24,000 miles, Junípero died on August 28, 1784 of tuberculosis in the Mission San Carlos at Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

Saint Junípero Serra is the namesake of the Serra Club, an international Catholic organization 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.

Born :                   November 24, 1713 in Petra, Majorca, Spain

Died:                    August 28, 1784 in the Mission San Carlos at Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, USA

Beatified:            September 25, 1988 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized:         September 23, 2015 by Pope Francis

Feast Day:          July 1 (United States), August 28

Patron Saint:     Archdiocese of Los Angeles, California; California; California Missions; Serra Foundation



Saint Junípero Serra’s efforts in spreading Christianity played a significant role in the history of California, particularly in the establishment of missions along the California coast. The zeal with which Saint Junipero lived his life inspires us each to serve the Lord with the entirety of our hearts, souls and lives. What a difference we might make in the world if we were to embrace our apostolic calling with the same vigor and commitment that Saint Junipero did!

What zeal can you show today in serving the Lord and spreading Christianity where you live? While you may not be founding new missions or converting Native Americans, the example of your actions today can spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout this world that seems to have forgotten Him.



Saint Junípero Serra,

Faithful servant of God, you walked the path of faith, spreading the light of Christ as you guided the California missions.

Even with the challenges of your time, you sought to share the Gospel and to bring hope and salvation.

We pray for your intercession in our journey of faith today. Inspire us to live with courage, to embrace the call to love and serve.

May your example of dedication, strengthen our commitment to building a world of love and peace.

Saint Junípero Serra, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Celebrating Junipero Serra: The Saint Who Founded California

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Junipero Serra

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 1 July – St Junipero Serra O.F.M., Apostle of California

Carmel Mission Basilica – St. Junípero Serra

Catholic Exchange – St. Junípero Serra

Catholic News Agency – St. Junipero Serra Feast day: Jul 01

Catholic Online – St. Junipero Serra

CatholicSaints.Info – Canonization Homily for Saint Junipero Serra, by Pope Francis, 23 September 2015

Church Pop – 10 Facts about the Great St. Junípero Serra Every Catholic Needs to Know!

Daily Prayers – Junípero Serra

Franciscan Media – Saint Junípero Serra’s Camino by Stephen J. Binz

Independent Catholic News – USA celebrates Saint Junipero Serra by Christian Clifford

Loyola Press – Saint John Climacus Feast day March 30

My Catholic Life – July 1: Saint Junípero Serra, Priest

National Catholic Register – St. Junípero Serra is a Great American Hero

New Advent – Clugnet, L. (1910). St. John Climacus. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

RC Spirituality (Uncle Eddy) – St. John Climacus

Saints for Sinners – Father Junipero Serra

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Junipero Serra (1713-1784)

Saint of the Day – July 1 St. Junipero Serra

Saint Resources – Junipero Serra

Serra International – Saint Junipero Serra

The Daily Mass – Bl. Junipero Serra

uCatholic – Saint Junipero Serra

Video Link

Bl. Junipero Serra – YouTube (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)

Cradio Saint of the Day: Blessed Junipero Serra – YouTube (CatholicSaints.Info)

Bishop Barron on the Canonization of Junípero Serra – YouTube (Bishop Robert Barron)